The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Board of Trustees has approved a collective bargaining agreement between Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 208 and COTA at a special meeting on October 17 to effectively serve and meet the growing demands in Central Ohio.
A statement by the Director of Government Affairs and Special Projects, Patrick Harris said that, “The agreement, which was approved by Local 208 membership on October 16, is a unified step toward positioning COTA to support the growing Central Ohio region with innovative, fixed-route and demand-focused mobility solutions. The contract was executed at the Trustees meeting and is effective retroactively to Jan. 1, 2018, through December 28, 2020.”
“Since accepting the CEO position at COTA, one thing has been clear: We have a talented and dedicated workforce passionate about meeting the mobility needs of the Central Ohio community,” said Joanna Pinkerton, COTA President/CEO.
“Looking forward, we have a lot to do. The region is growing by leaps and bounds. A strategic, nimble transit system is needed more than ever, and COTA will lead the way as a mobility systems integrator. We are excited for what the future holds and look forward to serving in new, innovative ways,” she said.
Pinkerton praised TWU Local 208 President Andrew Jordan and its membership for their leadership, patience, dedication and insight throughout the negotiation process.
According to her, “I feel confident that the agreement reached today positions COTA, its nearly 700 operators, 145 vehicle maintenance technicians, and the entire team well for the future.”
TWU Local 208, whose membership includes COTA operators, vehicle maintenance technicians and cleaners, took proactive steps to address members’ concerns during the negotiation period.
TWU Local 208 President Andrew Jordan said, “We represent hard-working Central Ohioans who deliver quality, dependable service each and every day. We feel our members’ voices were present throughout the bargaining process, and this agreement allows Local 208 members to continue to move forward in their career endeavors.”
“Today marks a significant step forward for this organization and for the community, which relies on COTA,” said COTA Board Chair Trudy Bartley. “With the contract resolution process behind us, the board now turns its attention toward advancing an aggressive agenda that will address the mobility needs of the region with this talented, passionate team. We appreciate COTA’s leadership for their commitment to this positive result for employees and the community.”
Achievements of the agreement between COTA and TWU Local 208 include:
- Trust-building between Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Management and Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 208 membership
- Enhanced workforce and training opportunities for employees
- Modifications to the structure of COTA’s vehicle maintenance department to train for industry-leading skill sets and provide additional paths to promotion for maintenance technicians.
- Creation of new operator scheduling process that allows for future on-demand service opportunities
- Continuing to ensure that COTA continues to maintain sound financial stewardship of public resources.
Key provisions of the agreement:
- A 3% wage increase effective 10/18/2018, 1/1/2019, and 1/2/2020. A lump sum payment will be paid after ratification to make all covered employees whole for pay between 1/1/2018 and 10/17/2018.
- Ohio Public Employee Retirement (PERS) pick-up paid by COTA on behalf of employee is reduced by 0.5% each year of the Agreement. At the end of the three-year Agreement, the pick-up rate will be reduced from 2.25% to 0.75%.
- Employee premium contribution rates are unchanged at 8% for those who meet their wellness goals. The 20% (participant using nicotine) and 25% (non-participant) contribution levels remain unchanged.
- Employee premium contribution rates increase from 12% to 14% for employees who do not meet their wellness program goals.
- The agreement introduces a new classification of Operator. “Flex Board” Operators will operate vehicles owned or leased by COTA to provide-on-demand public transit in areas as defined by the Authority, including first-and-last mile service.
- The new vehicle maintenance training structure provides additional employee training opportunities and once fully qualified, employees will have the ability to work in all areas of the Vehicle Maintenance Department. Changes also allow for increased financial opportunities for Vehicle Maintenance employees to advance as they become trained and qualified in new skills.