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WRTA union allows strike; Vote gives board power if needed.

Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER - Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22, the union representing the drivers and mechanics of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority buses, voted unanimously yesterday to authorize a strike.

Local 22 business agent Christopher W. Bruce said the roughly 135 members all raised their hands in unison when the vote to authorize a strike occurred.

"There were no dissenters," he said.

The vote allows the executive board to vote to strike in case the company imposes a last and best offer before the union can have another membership meeting. The union would need five days' notice.

"We are not going to utilize it unless they force us to work with whatever terms they put out there for the last offer," Mr. Bruce said.

John F. Carney, RTA Transit Services general manager, said yesterday the union president explained to him after the vote that the decision was a process the union has to go through and it could have been done earlier.

If anything were to happen that would affect services there would be appropriate time to give the public fair warning, he said.

No one wants a strike, Mr. Carney said, so making sure one does not happen depends on whether the two sides can come to some agreements and discuss some of the issues.

Both sides will have a clearer picture of what might happen tomorrow, when they meet with a federal mediator to negotiate a contract. The last contract expired June 30 and union members are still working under extensions to that contract.

RTA Transit Services, which operates the WRTA buses, was granted a temporary restraining order in federal court Aug. 9 that required union bus drivers to continue working. The restraining order came after 31 drivers called in sick that day.

Mr. Carney said again that he would not impose anything without giving the union enough time to vote.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 30, 2010
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