Weekend Strike Planned For Bus Drivers In Worcester

Worcester-area residents who rely on bus service will have to find alternative ways of getting around as 130 bus drivers prepare to strike.

The strike against the Worcester Regional Transit Authority is set to begin Friday at 11 p.m. after contract negotiations between the two sides broke down.

WRTA says the union failed to present an "acceptable compromise" to what it called its last and best offer. At issue is a request from WRTA for workers to pay 25 percent of health care costs — a 12 percent increase.

"We have to have the employee realize that they have a share in the responsibility of the rising health care costs," said WRTA General Manager John Carney.

Union leader Christopher Bruce says that's something drivers can't afford.

"Going from 13 to 25 (percent) in one shot is much too drastic. It impacts our members by about $2,000 dollars per year, per member and it's just too much to expect," Bruce said.

Bruce says workers are seeking a 9.5 percent wage increase over three years and have agreed to pay 20 percent of health insurance costs.

Transit officials say a proposed raise would cover the rising cost of health care.

The WRTA provides transportation services for 35 central Massachusetts communities.

The agency says while buses will be idle, it hopes to continue providing van service for the elderly and disabled.

This program aired on November 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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