By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Despite a vote two weeks ago to strike by public transit union members, the GoLine bus systems have continued to run as scheduled.
Disputes about wages have brought negotiations on a three-year contract to a standstill, leaving the public transportation system reliability a question mark.
Representatives from the Senior Resource Association, the nonprofit entity that runs GoLine and Community Coach, the door-to-doctor office transit service, said a physical strike could still take place, but union representatives have agreed to set up a time to go back to the bargaining table.
Indian River County does supply some of the funding for the public transportation service, but because the Senior Resource Association, a private organization, is the one that runs the service, the employees are also private, and can go on strike, said Karen Deigl, CEO and president of Senior Resource Association.
Because of the vote to strike, updates on the status on the bus schedule are being updated daily on the GoLine and Senior Resource Association websites, as well as the Channel 27, the government channel, she said.
"Community Coach riders that count on the transit service to get to life-sustaining services, such as dialysis or chemotherapy, should not see an interruption in their schedules," Ms. Deigl said.
At press time, the two entities had not set a date for further negotiations.
Ms. Deigl said she is not certain what else can be done during the negotiations to come to an agreement because there isn't any money available for wage increases.
"When an agreement is ultimately reached, the contract is effective immediately and there are no funds left this fiscal year for raises and if that is the only sticking point, there is nothing more I can do," Ms. Deigl said. "I'm certainly willing to bargain in good faith and we'll see what happens."
The Senior Resource Association's fiscal year ends June 30, so it might be easier to talk about a reopener between June and August for a better idea if anything can be done to work something out with the union, she said.
For the most updated information on routes, call (772) 569-0903 or visit www.golineirt.com or www.seniorresourceassociation.org.