Contract negotiations resumed this week between Vineyard Transit Authority drivers and their employer Transit Connection Inc. (TCI).

With a federal mediator present, both sides came together at the bargaining table Wednesday at the Tisbury emergency services building.

TCI took the unusual step of inviting members of the media to attend the session, although most of the morning was taken up by side conferences in a hallway outside the main meeting room.

On the management side, TCI president Ed Pigman and Vineyard general manager Darren Morris attended along with Greg Dash, a labor relations consultant.

Attending on the union side were Vineyard driver Richard Townes, union organizer David Heller, union vice president Bruce Hamilton, and local 1548 president Charles Ryan 3rd.

VTA drivers are affiliated with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which they voted to join in 2015. Efforts by TCI to block the move in court eventually failed, and contract talks have been under way since September 2018.

Tension has been mounting as the talks have dragged on with no outcome.

Last week drivers voted to avert a strike before the Memorial Day weekend, although some kind of job action remains a possibility.

The two sides differ over wages, seniority route perks and which drivers qualify for union benefits, among other things.

On Wednesday members of each group took turns conferring privately federal mediator Joseph Kelleher of Warwick, R.I., who had traveled to the Island to attend the talks.

When both groups sat at the same table, discussion was tense with charges of bad faith on both sides.

“We’ve gone around the same mulberry bush for five months now,” Mr. Pigman told union representatives after they suggested further changes to who would be included in the bargaining unit.

“This is the problem of having negotiations out of the room is it leaves us in the position of not knowing where we stand,” said Mr. Hamilton from the union.

The talks are expected to continue through Friday morning.