PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A potential strike by paratransit drivers has been called off after members voted to accept an agreement with Paratransit Management of the Berkshires on Friday.
Robert Malnati, administrator of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, sent a brief notification late Friday that he had been told the tentative agreement settled on Wednesday had been voted by the paratransit union membership. Paratransit Management has operated the bus agency's paratransit services for nearly two years.
The workers represented by International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 404 had rejected a "best and final offer" in early February and called for a strike. If the 18 members had walked, it would also have affected the 35 or so fellow union members employed by BRTA who would not have crossed the picket line.
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. A strike would have left thousands with no way to get to work, shopping or appointments.
A federal mediator was called in to work with the negotiators and the strike was delayed several times as the two sides edged closer together. The tentative agreement was reached on Wednesday and union members agreed to continue working until it was put to a full vote on Friday. If it had been rejected, the strike would have likely occurred next week.
It is not clear what issues were at stake in the contract.
"Thank you to the BRTA customers for your patience, understanding, and ridership during this process," Malnati wrote.
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