EXCLUSIVE: Charge dismissed, RTA union chief reopens bus contract

Wright Stop Plaza in January. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Wright Stop Plaza in January. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The leader of Greater Dayton RTA’s largest union informed the transit authority his union membership intends to reopen the contract that ended January’s four-day strike.

ATU Local 1385 President Glenn Salyer informed transit executives of his decision Tuesday. Meanwhile, city prosecutors dismissed the criminal trespass charge he faced stemming from an August incident near the transit authority’s Wright Stop Plaza downtown.

MORE: Union chief trespassed from RTA property

The contract move allows the regional transit authority and its union membership to renegotiate the contract’s insurance provisions — something expected when the contract finalized — but also opens the system to a distant possibility of a future strike if the brittle relationship between the union and RTA fractures.

Deep disagreements remain between Salyer and RTA CEO Mark Donaghy. The two men disagree, for example, over whether employees who declined to opt-in to RTA’s insurance policy in November, when the contract was not signed, should be able to enroll now that the contract is signed.

“I’ve asked for them to let these people enroll, and they’re saying no,” Salyer said of several employees he believes are being retaliated against for their decision. “I think that’s unfair, because these people didn’t know in November the cost would change in January.”

MORE: Dayton RTA chief, union leader agree: They don’t like each other

Donaghy called Salyer’s comments “nonsensical.”

“If you’re a human being and you’re deciding whether or not I need health insurance or need to join my employer’s plan, that’s a pretty big decision to make,” Donaghy said in an interview. “Show me a place on Earth where we do it how Glenn does it … all this hindsight is 20-20 stuff is beyond me.”

The relationship between the men has been marked by distrust for years and came to a head during an incident in August. The dispute landed Salyer in Montgomery County Jail on a criminal trespass charge for refusing to leave an area near Wright Stop Plaza. He remains barred from RTA facilities.

MORE: RTA’s union deal could be reopened by June

Donaghy now concedes the land where Salyer stood is not owned by RTA, but he maintains the transit authority has the right to enforce its conduct policy there and will continue to do so on the city’s right-of-way.

“There’s a great debate I know, in Glenn’s mind, where the property begins and the code ends,” Donaghy said. “I can say this, we have consistently enforced the code in the area of concern since the day we opened in 2009.”

Last week, Dayton prosecutors subpoenaed the land survey of RTA’s boarding platform commissioned by Salyer at his own cost. Salyer believes the survey shows he and others have been arrested for trespassing without cause.

On Tuesday, Dayton Chief Prosecutor Stephanie Cook withdrew Salyer’s trespass case.

“We just dismissed it,” Cook said. “I don’t intend on discussing it any further.”

Read more about Greater Dayton RTA:

» ATU ratifies new labor contract with RTA

» Miamisburg bridge replacement will impact traffic, RTA routes

» 5 times American transit workers walked off jobs

» Ohio GOP legislators say 'never again' after RTA strike

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