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BRTA On Verge of Work Stoppage

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is on the verge of a work stoppage.
 
Drivers for Paratransit Management of the Berkshires have reportedly voted down the best and final offer during contract negotiations as well as called for a strike. The workers are represented by International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 404.
 
The BRTA, which oversees Paratransit, was informed of the vote but has yet to receive written notification regarding the details of the strike, according to BRTA Administrator Robert Malnati.
 
"At this time, BRTA has not received the written notification from the union regarding the strike. There remain many questions that would only be speculation if answers were provided now," Malnati said on Wednesday.
 
The 18 members in the union employed by Paratransit voted the strike on Tuesday night and apparently scheduled the work stoppage in 10 days. The union has not commented on the matter.
 
The strike will impact all aspects of the BRTA. The union had been working with a mediator to settle a contract and the "best and final offer" was delivered to the union on Jan. 26. The membership's vote had twice been postponed before Tuesday. 
 
"The fixed route (BTM) operators, mechanics, and maintenance staff are still working, but cannot cross picket lines," Malnati said.
 
The Intermodal Center will remain open and Peter Pan, Greyhound, and Amtrak will still stop in Pittsfield. The BRTA issued a notice of the impending stoppage on Tuesday.
 
"This action may also cause the BRTA bus service to cease operations and halt maintenance performed on BRTA vehicles," the notice reads.
 
The BRTA has an annual ridership of more than 600,000, with close to 80,000 of those through the paratransit service that supplements the fixed bus service for those with impaired mobility. 

Tags: BRTA,   strike,   

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Pittsfield Receives Contingency Funds For Dam Removal

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council accepted a $113,316.12 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to go toward the demolition of the Mill Street dam.
 
Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath told the council Tuesday that the grant funds will go toward the dam removal contingency but that there is still a ways to go to hit the 10 percent contingency goal.
 
"It's a small contingency for a large project like this but there was a recognition that additional funds were needed," he said. "That is why these funds form the commonwealth are coming toward us for contingency."
 
The deteriorating dam is attached to the Hawthorne Mill Building, which used to house the Tel-Electric Piano Player Co. factory. Nearly 20 years ago, the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety labeled the dam as in hazardous condition.
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