After members voted to accept an agreement with Paratransit Management of the Berkshires on Friday a potential strike by paratransit drivers has been called off reports that Robert Malnati, the administrator of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, sent a brief notification late Friday that he had been told the tentative agreement settled on Wednesday had been voted by the paratransit union membership. Paratransit Management has operated the bus agency's paratransit services for nearly two years.

A federal mediator was called in to work with the negotiators and the strike was delayed several times as the two sides edged closer together.

The tentative agreement was reached on Wednesday and union members agreed to continue working until it was put to a full vote on Friday. If it had been rejected, the strike would have likely occurred next week.

The BRTA has an annual ridership of more than 600,000, with close to 80,000 of those through the paratransit service that supplements the fixed bus service for those with impaired mobility.

A strike would have left thousands with no way to get to work, shopping or appointments.


The union nurses at Berkshire Medical Center have called off next week's planned strike.

The local Massachusetts Nurses Association chapter opted to withdraw the strike notice as contract negotiations have progressed after a late night of last-minute negotiations Thursday.

The nurses were planning on a one-day strike on Tuesday, which likely have been followed by a lockout.

A notice from the local MNA to its membership said:

"We made enough progress to avert the strike scheduled for Tuesday and continue bargaining with the hospital,"

But, "we retain the right to re-issue another 10-day notice for a one-day strike if necessary." reports that BMC Spokesman Michael Leary said he is pleased that the strike has been postponed and hopes to find,

" A reasonable and mutually agreeable conclusion to our negotiations. "We offered our nurses a comprehensive, fair contract package long ago, and have made favorable adjustments to that proposal over the last several months. Yesterday, our bargaining team made one last effort to bring the contract negotiations to a satisfactory end by presenting further enhancements,"

"These included language promising to not change the RN staffing grids in a way that would increase the number of patients assigned to RNs between now and the proposed end date of the contract. We also offered language making it clear that clinical team leaders and permanent charge nurses generally would not be expected to take a patient assignment except under very limited circumstances, and then with limited duration. These offers would result in the first staffing language we have agreed to insert in any of our contracts."

Leary noted that the hospital has also proposed extending the contract to four years as well as significant salary increases.

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