COTA And Union Workers Still Disagree On New Contract

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COTA bus in Columbus
COTA bus in Columbus

Thousands of COTA bus riders could find themselves scrambling to get to work next week if union workers go on strike. Union leaders will meet again with COTA executives on Sunday to try to reach an agreement.

More than 60,000 COTA bus riders could be left without transportation if no agreement is reached by Monday morning. Drivers and maintenance workers at COTA have approved a strike after contract negotiations broke down. Speaking on All Sides with Ann Fisher, CEO and President of COTA, Curtis Stitt says the proposed contract with union employees includes an overall 5% increase in wages over 3 years.

“We think we have been negotiating in good faith. We proposed fair wage increases. We proposed an incentive program that would allow employees to reduce their percentage of their contribution to the insurance premium,” says Stitt.

But, President of the Transport Workers Union, Local 208, Andrew Jordan says there are too many pay inequities among workers.
“We have about 70% of my members are either in a two-tier or a wage progression sitting next to a person making almost $7 or in some cases $10 more an hour than they do,” Jordan says.

Jordan adds other sticking points include increased workload and pension payments.

Meanwhile, preparations for the Red White and Boom celebration could be changed since usually about 26,000 people ride COTA to get downtown. Appearing on All Sides with Ann Fisher, spokeswoman for the Columbus Department of Public Safety, Amanda Ford says more manpower will be necessary if more people walk or ride bicycles.

“So we’re going to reassign some officers to help with that traffic trying to get out of downtown. So we’ll have some more folks out there directing traffic, but also we’ll have officers walking with large groups of pedestrians to make sure they’re crossing the streets safely,” says Ford.

Ford says a COTA strike could mean up to 9,000 more cars are on downtown streets for the fireworks.

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