The tentative agreement between the Greater Dayton RTA and ATU Local 1385 would allow the regional transit authority or its drivers and mechanics to renegotiate part of the contract for nearly five months if ratified next week, setting up the possibility of another strike, the newspaper has learned.
The deal also includes a lump sum back pay to union employees for work already done in first year following the prior contract’s expiration in 2015, plus 2 percent pay raises each year through 2019 — a longer-term pact than originally anticipated despite the two years of negotiations preceding Wednesday night’s deal.
Bus, trolley and paratransit service resumed Friday after a four-day strike. RTA’s board of directors and ATU’s membership will each vote on ratification Tuesday.
RTA CEO Mark Donaghy and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 President Glenn Salyer signed the tentative agreement Thursday, but both men declined to discuss the matter at the request of a state mediator since reaching agreement Wednesday.
The Dayton Daily News and WHIO obtained a copy of the signed agreement from RTA late Friday after requesting the document Thursday using Ohio public records law.
“I sought a legal opinion since the document was the subject of collective bargaining and the mediator requested the details not be made public before the parties had an opportunity to review it and vote,” said Donaghy in an email. “I have been advised that it is a public record at this point.”
Neither Donaghy nor Salyer elaborated on the deal Friday.
The agreement works out a lump sum back payment to each union employee for work completed between April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016. The lump sum is 2 percent of the gross pay each employee earned during that time, for a total sum of $465,754.
The deal offers 2 percent raises across the board in 2017, 2018 and 2019, a year longer than anticipated. In 2016, a state fact-finder recommended 2 percent wage increases for 2015, 2016 and 2017, even though the union originally asked for a 4.5 percent increase in 2015.
The benefits plan proposed would have employees pay 15 percent of the total cost of the health care plan defined by premium charges for years 2015 and 2016.
In 2017, the contract calls for the employees to pay for a weekly rate based on the type of the medical coverage they choose. A single employee would pay $27.53 weekly for medical, prescription and dental coverage, or $88.21 per week for a family.
Click here to download our free mobile app for breaking news and weather.
However, upon ratification of the agreement, RTA will contribute to a Health Savings Account one-time lump sums ranging from $1,100 for a single employee up to $2,500 for family plan coverage.
Additionally, the agreement calls for the development of a non-obligatory wellness incentive plan, with employees able to earn up to $600 in wellness benefits as cash or as a pretax contribution to a health savings plan or reimbursement account.
A deal, for now
A ratified agreement could unravel, however, by June 1.
The contract language allows either party to reopen only the health care portion of the agreement up to that time. If reopened, the parties could re-negotiate the deal. If they fail to reach agreement, the contract would allow the union to strike again, “provided they give a 10-day notice of intent to strike on” Dec. 31, 2017.
Doug Anspach, a labor attorney with Taft Stettinius & Hollister who does not represent either party, said the language allowing the contract to be reopened indicates the issue was “a big deal” in negotiations.
“What they did, essentially, is punt on the issue for a little while, get people back to work and deal with it later if they have to,” Anspach said. “If you have some vocal members who are getting hurt by this earlier in the year, they can say, we need to go back to the table and try this again to see if we need to do a little more.”
“It’s certainly a tool they can use to exert some pressure in the middle of the contract,” he said.
Staff Writer Josh Sweigart contributed reporting.
The Dayton Daily News provided unmatched coverage of the dispute between the Greater Dayton RTA and its union membership. The newspaper’s reporters — funded by your subscription — navigated Ohio’s public records laws to obtain an exclusive copy of the tentative agreement.