A mediation session this week between the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and the union that represents paratransit drivers left some optimistic that the contentious contract negotiations will soon come to an end, according to Victor Santiago, business agent for the Pittsfield unit of Teamsters 404.

The Berkshire Eagle reports Nov. 5, the union that represents BRTA paratransit drivers voted to reject a contract offer and authorize a strike to occur on or around Nov. 16. That strike was postponed, but the threat of one has lingered.

The contract in dispute is between the BRTA's 15 paratransit drivers and a First Transit subsidiary, Paratransit Management of the Berkshires, which has operated the BRTA's on-call bus service since July 2016.

On Monday, both groups met with a mediator in Hartford, Conn., and Santiago believes that progress was made in terms of contract negotiations.

The BRTA is expected to reach out to the union by Friday to "hopefully" make a new contract offer, Santiago said.

In addition to the paratransit drivers, who operate small on-call vans for mobility-impaired individuals, the union also represents 38 fixed-route drivers.

If paratransit drivers were to strike, it would likely affect fixed-route buses.


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