Teamsters reject CCTA offer; bus drivers set to strike on March 17


Burlington area bus drivers are scheduled to go on strike March 17.

Members of the drivers' union, Teamsters Local 597, voted 54-0 on Wednesday to reject the latest offer from the Chittenden County Transit Authority. CCTA has 68 drivers; all are in the union.

During the strike, there will be no CCTA service: All local and LINK routes operated by CCTA bus drivers would no longer be available. LINK services to Montpelier would be limited to five trips a day and Hinesburg would be limited to two.

The bus drivers say they have been treated unfairly by the management of CCTA.

Rob Slingerland, a spokesman for the strike, says drivers want a "fair" contract that "treats drivers with respect, avoids increasing driver fatigue and creates livable jobs."

"The drivers can't live under the terms of management's last proposal," Slingerland wrote in an email statement. "That's why it was voted down in such a big way."

Bill Watterson, general manager of CCTA, says the company has offered to resolve differences with the union through binding arbitration, which he describes as a "neutral dispute resolution process." Binding arbitration would allow an independent arbiter to decide how the outstanding issues should be resolved.

"We're disappointed the union has voted to strike. Disrupting service would impose an extraordinary burden on many Vermonters," said Watterson. "Our most recent offer - which included generous pay increases and flexibility in work rules - was exceedingly fair, reasonable and respectful. CCTA is hopeful the union will reconsider its decision to strike and agree to binding arbitration."

The contract between drivers and CCTA expired on June 30, 2013.

The last bargaining session, which lasted 19 hours, was held on Saturday and Sunday. No negotiations have been scheduled.


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