CCTA board calls special meeting over drivers' strike - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

CCTA board calls special meeting over drivers' strike

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The Chittenden County bus drivers' strike is now in week three. Monday a special CCTA Board meeting was held to look at issues holding up a deal.

After 17 hours of negotiations last Friday the strike continues. Just a little while ago the union unanimously voted down management's proposal. Now a union representative who has been at the bargaining table told me that this outcome was expected as CCTA did not meet drivers demands regarding work hours. At Monday's special board meeting some called for managers to be fired.

The public spoke out at an emotionally charged special meeting of the CCTA Board of commissioners Monday urging them to recognize what both drivers and many riders perceive as hostile and predatory management even calling for the termination of current management.

For those at the negotiation table some progress was made during negotiations last Friday regarding the use of anonymous complaints.

"We say that yes the company would have the ability to impose discipline on that and the anonymous complaint as long as the anonymous complaint had other corroborating evidence," said Nathan Bergeron, driver Steward.

A main sticking point holding up negotiations now is work hours. The union says they want 12 and a half-hour shifts and are willing to compromise to get it.

"We speak for what the majority is saying and they're saying give them the part-timers, we want 12 and a half, you got a deal. You do that you got a deal," said Bergeron.

But CCTA says what actually occurred at the table is not that black and white. They find that part-timers don't want the job because they do not get enough hours.

"Our current contract allows us 13 part time positions but the work rules are so restrictive that were not able to attract people to those positions therefore were not able to cover the work that needs to be covered," said Bill Watterson, CCTA general manager.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, waded deeper into the issue Monday, calling for a quick resolution to the strike. He says that there are underlying workplace issues that will not be resolved at the bargaining table or written in a contract. He proposed a plan to help with what he calls work culture in lieu of complaints against management style.

"We would like updates from our representative. You know the city of Burlington is one of the funders of CCTA we do have a couple of reps on governing board, we would like updates on a regular basis on the progress toward improvement in these areas," said Weinberger.

Mayor Weinberger is calling for updates every two months on management, driver relations, trying to make the workplace culture more positive and rebuilding this relationship that has been tarnished.

The union submitted their own counterproposal to CCTA just a little while ago. No word yet on a new negotiation session with the federal mediator, but Weinberger did tell me that the pace of negotiations has clearly sped up which he sees as a positive sign that both sides are ready to end this. 

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