BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Hundreds of MBTA drivers are on strike for a sixth day in Everett and Watertown, amid stalled contract negotiations.
According to the Teamsters Local 25 Union, despite the weather, the workers are picketing 24 hours a day, seven day a week over the transit agency's demands for increased health insurance costs.
"A total of 350 essential workers who have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are striking over the company’s demands for significant health insurance increases," said the union. "These men and women have been on the job during the entire pandemic providing door-to-door transportation for people who cannot use public transit because of physical, cognitive or mental disabilities."
As WBZ-TV reports, talks over the proposed contract hit a roadblock last week, with union members saying they are getting hammered by the cost of health insurance.
“The company is trying to cut back on health insurance in the worst possible time, and it’s just unacceptable," union shop steward Ray Domkowski told WBZ-TV. "We’ve finally reached the end, it was just like hamsters on a merry go round. No progress and we kept talking and talking and trying different scenarios to come up with a solution to the situation and this is where we wind up."
Earlier this week, hundreds of drivers voted unanimously to reject the company’s final contract offer and go on strike immediately.
“Veterans Transportation is a highly profitable company denying its own workers affordable health insurance during a global pandemic,” said Teamsters Local 25 President Sean M. O’Brien. “These men and women are essential workers who have put themselves and their families at risk providing essential services during this time. Our members at Veterans Transportation can be assured we will fight for them and will not rest until they receive a fair contract.”
The MBTA said it would continue to provide transportation services as best it is able, and asked riders to postpone non-essential trips this week if possible to ensure service is available for riders with urgent needs.
“The MBTA urges Teamsters Local 25 and Veterans Transportation to continue negotiations to reach an agreement soon,” the agency said on Monday. “The MBTA’s main priority is to provide transportation services for the T’s most at-risk, vulnerable customers, and has developed a plan for RIDE service in the immediate time period."
(Photo: Suzanne Sausville/Twitter)