Cleveland RTA innovates new labor deal

Transit riders, workers and Cuyahoga County taxpayers should benefit from GCRTA's unique transit-industry labor agreement.

In what appears to be the first such labor agreement in the U.S. transit industry, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s (GCRTA) board of trustees approved on April 16 an innovative labor agreement tied to the agency’s revenues. The agreement is with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 268, which represents 1,700 out of GCRTA’s 2,300 employees.

The ATU approved the deal on April 3. Under the agreement, eligible ATU members will receive a 3 percent wage increase, consistent with an increase in GCRTA revenue earned between 2010 and 2011, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012.

In February 2013, ATU members could receive a wage increase of up to 3 percent based on GCRTA’s realized revenue increase between 2012 and 2013; in February 2014, workers could receive a wage increase of up to 3 percent based on the agency’s realized increase in revenue between 2012 and 2013. No wage increases will be awarded if revenue does not increase, according to a written statement by GCRTA.

Members also will increase their contributions toward health insurance and copayments, and will receive credits for healthy lifestyle activities such as being a nonsmoker and getting annual physicals.

“This is a landmark agreement which protects taxpayers and riders if revenues do not grow,” said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Ken Prendergast. “During the Great Recession, the decline in GCRTA revenues forced deep cuts in transit services, some of which might have been avoided if the new agreement was in place then.”

According to GCRTA, nearly two-thirds of its riders use buses and trains to get to work. So when transit service is lost, it makes it very difficult for many workers to get to their jobs.

“Having more transit improves economic conditions by expanding access to opportunities,” Prendergast said. “I’m hopeful this agreement will allow for cost-effective service expansions, more ridership and more economic growth in the service area of Ohio’s largest public transit agency.”

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