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BRTA Strike Ends; Regular Bus Service Resumes Wednesday

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — BRTA buses should be back on schedule Wednesday, Dec. 19, bringing an end to the strike that has paralyzed much of the county's public transportation system for the past two weeks. 
 
The latest offer presented to the federal mediator on Tuesday was voted on by the paratransit union membership at a meeting and was approved.  
 
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority sent out an alert early Tuesday afternoon reporting it had received notification that the union representing the paratransit drivers had accepted the latest offer. Regular paratransit services will resume Thursday, Dec. 20.
 
Fixed route service had been severely curtailed since the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 404 rejected a contract offer from Paratransit Management of the Berkshires on Dec. 3. In addition to the nearly 20 Local 404 paratransit drivers striking, the fixed-route drivers mounted a work stoppage so as not to cross the picket line. 
 
The paratransit drivers have been at odds with BRTA for nearly year and there were indications that a strike might occur earlier this fall. The fixed-route drivers currently have a three-year contract. 
 
The work stoppage has played havoc with people's schedules over the past weeks, making it harder to get to work, school and appointments. Transit officials tried keep some semblance of limited access on routes going up and down the county and chair-companies were hired to provide restricted paratransit service.
 
The latest offer presented to the federal mediator on Tuesday was voted on by the paratransit union membership at a meeting and was approved.  
 
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,   paratransit,   public transportation,   strike,   union contract,   

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Pittsfield Continues Tax Classification Hearing Over Free Cash

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Mayor Linda Tyer says she wants to focus on building reserves. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday continued the tax classification hearing after clashing with the mayor over how much free cash should be used to offset the tax rate.
 
At the end of a nearly three-hour meeting, councilors and Mayor Linda Tyer were at a stalemate with the majority of the council unsatisfied with Tyer's $750,000 compromise.
 
"We are taking this out of the pockets of our taxpayers and putting it into the city coffers," Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers said. "I know that's how it works but at this moment we can afford to give some of that savings back."
 
The original proposal was a residential tax rate of $19.99 per $1,000 valuation and a commercial rate of $39.96 per $1,000 valuation, which holds the residential rate to a 57 cent increase and the commercial rate to a 2 cent increase.
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