News Detail

CEO Mark Donaghy Responds to ATU Labor Concerns

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Mark Donaghy (937) 425-8390, Chief Executive Officer

(DAYTON, OHIO)… RTA respects and appreciates its hard working employees. We want them to have a fair contract that addresses their needs as well as balancing the needs of the community in terms of service levels provided for the tax dollars they provide in order for RTA to serve them.

There has been a great deal of false information distributed to our customers and community stakeholders in the past few months and we feel that we must set the record straight.

False Statement – RTA has not bargained in good faith for nearly two years.

RTA Response – RTA Management has been willing, ready, and proactive in trying to bargain with the ATU. Sadly, after just two bargaining sessions lasting only 3 hours each on April 2nd and May 22nd, 2015, the ATU negotiating leaders demanded the involvement of 3rd parties instead of traditional face-to-face bargaining which has served both parties for almost forty years. First with a state appointed mediator and then when unhappy with his efforts a demand to go straight to fact-finding. These tactics cost their members a year of time and ultimately their members back pay for that contract year.

False Statement - RTA’s wage offer is inadequate.

RTA Response - The final and current offer made by management included 2% per year for each of 3 years in a new agreement, plus a 2% lump sum payment that employees could take in cash or deposit in their Health Savings Account representing contract year 2015. Project Mobility drivers would receive up to a 10.5% raise depending on length of service.

False Statement - RTA employees are paid “poverty wages.”

RTA Response - The average earnings in 2015 for ATU represented employees of RTA was $60,260. The average wage by job classification for 2015 is shown it this table and far exceed Federal poverty levels.

Lineman

$ 77,581

Journeyman

$ 73,356

Specialist

$ 65,529

Service Repair

$ 64,933

Utility Mechanical

$ 64,549

Traditional Operator

$ 62,996

Cleaner/Fueler

$ 62,229

Utility Cleaner

$ 58,305

Janitor

$ 58,057

Utility Cleaner Non-Mechanical

$ 41,331

Project Mobility Operator

$37,371

2015 Federal Poverty Level (Family of 3)

$20,090

False Statement - Effective January 1, 2017 our employees will be paying $9,472 per year for family health insurance coverage.

RTA Response - This is a scare tactic.   It assumes all employees have family coverage, that all employees will have out of pocket medical costs exceeding the $5,000 deductible, does not give credit for the company contribution to the HSA accounts, and does not take into account tax savings. RTA employees past health plans have included cost sharing, co-pays, and out of pocket costs. These employee costs are not something new, unfortunately under current market conditions the costs are simply increasing faster than any party wants.

The truth is RTA is one of if the last public agencies in the region to move to a high deductible health plan and only did so because costs were spiraling out of control due to rising claims experience. In 2016 it is anticipated that RTA will spend nearly $9.8 million on heath costs. If the ATU can provide a verifiable alternative plan proposal and the cost is the same or lower than the 2017 plan, RTA would welcome that.

False Statement - RTA is demanding too much.

RTA Response - RTA wants a successor agreement with ATU. Management dropped more than 90% of its proposals and has tried multiple times since presenting the final offer demanded by ATU, to seek additional changes in order to accomplish that goal. Its’ final offer is fair and reasonable.   RTA AFSCME associates ratified an agreement with similar terms over a year ago.

False Statement - ATU’s demands are fair.

RTA Response - As of December 2nd, ATU’s position was that it would not accept any new contract offer unless RTA procured a health plan such as the former PPO plan and increased the wage offer made. The current offer to ATU will cost RTA nearly $1 million in the first year and more than $4 million over the life of the agreement. ATU’s December 2nd demands would drive the first year costs up by an additional $2 million and future costs much higher!

False Statement – RTA can afford to give more, they have plenty of money.

RTA Response – RTA is required to maintain cash reserves. First RTA must maintain funds to meet monthly payroll and vendor expenses, as RTA receives sales tax collections from the State of Ohio three months after the state collects them and all Federal grants are on a reimbursement basis are require RTA to spend upfront and then seek reimbursement. This need totals over $5-7 million on average. Next, RTA has to maintain funds to meet the match requirements of all current Federal grants and projected future Federal grants before applying for them. This requirement can range from $10-15 million. Finally, RTA is required to account for their share of the unfunded PERS pension liability which was over $28.6 million in 2015. These along with other requirements use all of RTA’s existing cash reserves.

False Statement – RTA does not allow bus drivers restroom breaks.

RTA Response -- Nothing could be further from the truth. RTA fixed route operators have access to restroom facilities a minimum of every 45 minutes. In some cases, employee-only restrooms are provided in addition to more than 30 locations where local businesses allow access to restrooms for RTA employees. In the event of an “emergency need”, RTA operators are trained to notify dispatch, inform customers and secure their bus if necessary to relieve the “call of nature”. RTA fixed routes have “layover” time of 7 to 20 minutes built to each route at the end of the line of each one-way trip (no more than 45 minutes) for operators to rest, use the restroom and prepare for their next trip or built in time at Downtown Transit Center during timed transfers.

Impact of a Labor Action

What happens if ATU members decide to strike and shut down the bus system?

A strike by ATU members would hurt everyone. Our customers lose access to their jobs and personal needs. ATU members lose their wages and benefits. Although this could mean a complete shutdown of regular scheduled service on RTA fixed routes, RTA staff will provide Project Mobility service for critical medical appointments such as dialysis treatments.

For a listing of route changes, sign-up for route alerts: i-riderta.org. Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/gdrta , or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/iriderta.

RTA is Ohio’s greenest fleet, and serves 3,300 stops on 31 routes throughout Montgomery and parts of Greene County. The agency operates diesel, hybrid diesel, and electric trolley buses that take people to work, school and shopping. Customers ride RTA on more than 9 million passenger trips each year. RTA is committed to providing the highest levels of customer service as the region’s first choice for alternative transportation.