Drivers for MBTA’s ‘The RIDE’ strike over health care benefits

“The company is trying to cut back on health insurance in the worst possible time, and it’s just unacceptable.”

Hundreds of drivers for the MBTA’s ‘The RIDE’ are on strike Monday morning over concerns about their health care benefits. 

The members of Teamsters Local 25 who work for Veterans Transportation, which provides the paratransit for the MBTA, voted Sunday to reject the company’s final contract offer over increases to their health insurance costs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WHDH reports.

“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 CBS Boston. “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.” 

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An estimated 350 members of Teamsters Local 25 work for Veterans Transportation, according to WHDH. The union has set up picket lines in Everett and Watertown. 

The RIDE provides door-to-door service aimed specifically at elderly and disabled passengers. 

In a statement, the MBTA urged a swift resolution between the union and company. 

“The MBTA urges Teamsters Local 25 and Veterans Transportation to continue negotiations to reach an agreement soon,” the transit agency said in a statement 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.

“The MBTA will continue to provide transportation services as best it is able and asks riders to postpone non-essential trips this week if possible to ensure service is available for riders with urgent needs,” said the agency.

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