RTA strike picket lines at bus barn

RTA DRIVERS’ STRIKE: Negotiations on hold as strike enters second day

RTA strike picket lines at bus barn

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The work stoppage of union drivers and mechanics for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 has entered a second day.

The strike is leaving about 20 percent of Dayton residents without transportation, according to Mayor Nan Whaley.

RTA CEO Mark Donaghy said the strike among drivers and mechanics is a “pretty callous disregard for our customers” and said RTA has received countless phone calls and emails about the walkout.

The union drivers for the RTA said on Monday they are prepared to strike for four or five weeks, as negotiations remain on hold.

“With our strike pay benefit, we’ve got our last two paychecks coming, and some of us have unused vacation we’ll pay,” said Glenn Salyer, Local 1385 president. “A lot of people won’t see a loss of paycheck for four or five weeks.”

Salyer said there are currently no planned talks, but said binding arbitration could end the strike earlier. RTA executives have rejected binding arbitration as a solution.

Salyer said the union “can always accept” what RTA has proposed. But he said “it’s nowhere near what we think we should have.”

“The insurance is very expensive and the cost to use it is very expensive,” he said. “Not only do you have high deductibles, we have high premiums. That’s an issue we’ve been talking about.”

Salyer said the transit authority has asked members with family coverage to pay a $5,000 deductible.

Salyer said a representative from AFL-CIO and a city of Dayton human resources employee attended a meeting between the RTA and union Wednesday night. The meeting was set up by Whaley and Rep. Niraj Antani. The city employee was in the meeting to provide a third-party perspective about insurance, he said.

“He was only there to explain their insurance policy and how it works,” Salyer said. “It’s a piece of artwork with how much they saved.”

Around 12:30 a.m. Monday morning, negotiators left the table with no deal reached.

Fencing was placed around the RTA hub in downtown Dayton Monday morning after the last buses returned to the hub after their routes.

Public officials have called for the two parties to end the strike.

Montgomery County commissioner Dan Foley released a statement saying both sides needed to move forward with mediation.

“Both sides need to be realistic and understand the current economic environment in which local tax-funded agencies operate,” he said.

Whaley said she is urging the sides to return to the table.

“They’re providing a really important service to our community, so it’s not like, ‘Oh, well, we’re not going to make these cars this week,’ or, ‘We’re not going to make these widgets this week,’” she said. “People are not able to go about their daily business, go about their lives, go about their education because the buses aren’t running.”

State Rep. Niraj Antani said he and others are looking at the possibility of proposing legislation that would prevent RTA employees from striking in the future. It would be similar to the legislation that prevents police, fire and other first responders from striking because it impacts a large number of people, he said.

The RTA, the ATU Local 1385, and two mediators will remain available to return to mediation at the request of the mediators.

RELATED:Beyond negotiations, GOP looks to prevent future RTA strike threats

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