WORCESTER -- A federal judge has ordered a Worcester bus drivers' union to pay a $1,000-a-day fine because drivers are refusing to work overtime.
US District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton fined the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 $5,000 on Friday, and said the fine would increase $1,000 each day that workers refuse to work extra hours to fill uncovered bus routes.
After a 2001 strike, Local 22 signed an agreement that the union would not strike or stop work for the remainder of its contract with the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. The contract expires June 30.
The union has said it has not told members to stop taking overtime. RTA Transit Services said the rate at which workers accepted maintenance overtime job offers dropped from 42 percent before April 1 to zero between April 1 and April 9.
In his ruling, Gorton wrote that drivers' unanimous refusal to accept overtime assignments "is not coincidental but is, instead, a concerted work stoppage" that violates the agreement between the Transit Authority and the union.
Alex R. Roman, RTA Transit Services general manager, said in an affidavit that the president of Local 22 said he had no prior knowledge of the work stoppage, but suggested it would end if the company would rehire a recently laid-off driver and allow mechanics greater flexibility in their overtime schedules.