Drivers from four different companies that operate vehicles for disabled and ill passengers have gone on strike. The 1,500 drivers want a new contract with the bus companies.
The union has rejected a settlement with some wage increase and a slight increase in medical benefits twice. And not all drivers wanted to walk off the job - one driver told WCBS 2, "To have use go out on strike right now during the Christmas holiday at a time when we need our money now more than ever, I think it's really a low blow and not a good tactic." The MTA, who contracts the companies to provide drivers for its Access-A-Ride program, is not part of the negotiations; MTA spokesman Paul Fleuranges said that trips would run as scheduled, but they will be reassigned to other transportation providers.
While a strike may be a way for the drivers to get the attention of the bus companies, we think seeing disabled riders worried about how they will get around tomorrow doesn't exactly help their cause. Disabled Riders Coalition executive director Michael Harris said, "We think it's not going to hurt managers or get their plan across. All it's going to do is inconvenience people with disabilities." Indeed: A blind man who usually takes an Access-A-Ride van says he'll be taking the subway if a ride doesn't show up.