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CCTA strike enters 2nd week - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

CCTA strike enters 2nd week

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The CCTA bus drivers will give an update on the status of the strike Monday morning at 11 o'clock and will report from this past Saturday's negotiations. They will be joined by local faith leaders and community members.

The CCTA bus drivers strike, now in its second week, has left engines idle and passengers without a ride.

"Something of that scope can't just shut down. It affects the entire community," said Jon Stoll.
Stoll and his partner take the CCTA buses every day -- to work, to appointments, to run all their errands -- it is their only means of transportation. But for a week, that ride hasn't been showing up.  "I feel like we've just been left to fend for ourselves. And it's just like, as a community, why can't we pull together and figure out a solution. I don't know, I just feel kind of left aside," he said.

The strike began March 17th between CCTA and the union drivers and it has affected nearly 10,000 passengers. CCTA general manager Bill Watterson says there are four main issues the two parties are not seeing eye to eye -- wages, disciplinary action from anonymous tips, part-time drivers, and split-shifts.  The sides met face-to-face for 7 hours Saturday but the session was cut short before all items were discussed. "Unfortunately it ended at about 8:20 p.m. when we sort of discovered the union had walked out," Watterson said.
 
A statement released by the union Saturday night said: "The company came to the table and was unwilling to address the two issues that lead to a 100-percent rejection of their last contract offer on 3-12-14."

"It's disappointing that we may have had a setback yesterday but I want the members of this community to know that CCTA is committed to finding a way to reach agreement so that we can end this strike and get back to serving you, because that is what we want to do and that is what we do best," Watterson said.

Watterson said CCTA delivered a complete contract to the union and if the union brings the proposal to drivers there is potential for a vote.  

Meanwhile many passengers, like Jon Stoll, are forced to find other ways to get around. "From my front door to my job is exactly three miles; and that's fine, but both ways? That is six miles for the entire day, and that is going to take two hours out of my entire day," he said.

And the end-of-the-season arctic blast has made those long walks even longer. "It's frigid cold. It's blustery on the best of days. And when we are walking outside, just for leisure, we can barely take more than a few minutes. So an entire hour, even when you're bundled up, it eats right through your clothes," Stoll said.

The harsh realities of a strike that has no end in sight.

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