Negotiations between the Greater Dayton RTA and the union representing its drivers and mechanics stalled again Thursday — the latest episode in a complex and bitter relationship between the two men leading the organizations ahead of a strike set to begin next month.
Glenn Salyer, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 president, and Mark Donaghy, the regional transit authority’s chief executive, are the leaders on the verge of shutting down an underpinning of the Miami Valley’s economy — the metro area’s bus and trolley system serving 30,000 daily riders.
In a blunt email exchange Thursday copied to the Dayton Daily News, Salyer asked Donaghy to enter binding arbitration to end the union strike threat. Donaghy rejected the offer, noting he wouldn’t “delegate our responsibility to the local taxpayers to a third party,” and accused Salyer of executing “the next page in the ‘ATU media guide.’”
But the fights extend beyond the contract negotiations, the newspaper found, and involve an August incident resulting in Salyer’s criminal trespass arrest and ban from RTA facilities for one year, requiring the labor leader to obtain permission from Donaghy’s executive and security staff each time the two parties meet on RTA property.
“It’s never been easy working with Glenn,” Donaghy told the newspaper in an interview Thursday, hours before Salyer said of Donaghy, “Mark has given us a lot of reasons not to trust him.”
Salyer, a bus driver on leave while serving as the union president, was arrested Aug. 11 by Dayton police at RTA’s Wright Stop Plaza. The arrest came after an extended dispute with security and executives about the RTA’s property line and whether he could distribute literature where he stood.
Salyer disclosed the arrest after the Dayton Daily News asked why, without explanation, he emailed reporters a copy of a public records request he made with the RTA for his own disciplinary file. He said he inadvertently emailed reporters the request alongside two pages of the strike notice and several pages of the union’s former contract.
A misdemeanor criminal trespass charge against Salyer is pending in Dayton Municipal Court. He said his attorney will file a motion to dismiss the case Friday, noting he commissioned a property survey of the station’s boarding platform to demonstrate to the court and Donaghy his innocence.
“He believed he controlled all the way to the curb, and he doesn’t,” Salyer said in an interview. “One thing that he understands now is, that’s a public sidewalk and we have a right to protest on the sidewalk.”
Donaghy maintains Salyer was on RTA property and said he believes Salyer “absolutely wanted to be arrested.”
RTA records illustrate Salyer violated the facilities code of conduct before August on three prior occasions:
- In 2012, Salyer “stood on the … boarding platform and passed out flyers” to customers;
- In 2014, Salyer “refused to leave the office” of the RTA labor relations manager;
- On Feb. 16, when Salyer “entered an unauthorized area without permission and confronted” an RTA manager.
In a memorandum hours after the August incident to RTA’s board of trustees, Donaghy said he was not in the office or available by phone during the arrest, but correctly predicted Salyer’s next move.
“I would imagine next there will be some sort of Unfair Labor Practice filing or litigation going forward, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for Mr. Salyer,” Donaghy wrote.
Local 1385 then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the State Employment Relations Board, which dismissed the matter, noting the authority “was well within its rights to cite” Salyer and to call the Dayton Police Department “because of Mr. Salyer’s refusal to leave the premises.”
Salyer said he believes SERB will re-evaluate its decision once they are provided the results of the property survey. SERB records show the board dismissed the matter with prejudice, meaning the decision is permanent.
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