Metro RTA Transport Workers Union accepts contract without strike
Akron Metro RTA employees who are members of the Transport Workers Union of America Local 1 has agreed to a contract with her employer after more than a year and a half of negotiations.
The deal, which has yet to be approved by Metro’s board of directors, comes after the international Transport Workers Union of America joined Akron from Washington, DC last fall Raise issues with the union and conduct negotiations.
The union and Metro had been negotiating since the union contract expired on July 31, 2020.
The union currently represents 74% of budgeted Metro team members, including bus operators, vehicle service workers, vehicle detailers and account managers.
The union ratified the treaty on Tuesday, February 8, by a vote of 186 yes and 25 no, said Willie Brown, director of the international union’s transit department.
Metro’s Board of Trustees is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, February 16 to review the three-year deal. If approved, the contract would be retroactive to June 1, 2021 and expire on May 31, 2024.
“Metro is confident that this agreement is fair and equitable to the organization and TWU membership and, most importantly, is a contract that would greatly benefit our riders,” Metro CEO Dawn Distler said in a statement. “Both parties have worked diligently to agree the new terms with no service disruptions for our Transit-loyal drivers.”
Brown said there are no changes to health insurance coverage. He was “not entirely satisfied” with the wages, but “when it comes to contracts, it’s a matter of give and take”.
He said “one of the biggest wins” was the elimination of a spousal spin-off for health insurance, which the company originally wanted.
The Transport Workers Union of America steps in
The Metro union had planned to go on strike in November, but the Transport Workers Union of America said the Akron local had not made the required notification to authorize a strike.
The international union intervened and put the possibility of a strike on hold. TWU Local 1 has been placed under temporary administration by unanimous decision of the TWU International Executive Committee.
Metro RTA and Transport Workers Union:Akron Metro RTA Strike Suspended; International Union takes over negotiations
According to the work departmentreceivership is a form of trusteeship in which a subordinate labor organization is imposed suspension of autonomy by a parent organization.
The Labor Department said trusteeships are most commonly used to help struggling subordinates, contribute to maintenance and stability, and promote rather than repress union democracy.
The union remains under receivership. Brown said the law allows the receiver to stay in place for up to 18 months, but he said that’s not the plan.
Instead, the international union intends to conduct an audit and provisionally leave office before the summer, with election and training for new local officials planned to “put the union back on the right track,” Brown said.
“Many of our members here in Summit County have reached out to the international union with concerns because the local union president is no longer with Metro. The strike authorization vote was conducted improperly and the international union was not properly notified in violation of the TWU constitution,” Brown said in November.
“We weren’t kept in the loop … We had no idea,” Brown said in an interview this week.
Rick Speelman, President of TWU Local 1, and Shawn Ervin, Treasurer, were both present released in 2020 following an investigation by Metro. Union leaders were sacked after the union leader was accused of threatening managers, making offensive remarks about black and LGBTQ communities and engaging in sexual conversations on phone calls during working hours.
Metro RTA Union Leaders Fired:Metro fires union leaders amid allegations of threats and offensive language
But the union argued that these and other alleged violations were only discovered when Metro illegally “spied” on the president by reviewing videos from the bus, and that he and another union leader were targeted in contract negotiations.
Union members approved a strike permit on September 11th. Strike authorization does not mean that a union will go on strike; The permit authorizes union leaders to call a strike if they deem it necessary.
The transport authority warned of service disruptions due to a possible strike several times in October and November, but no strike ever materialized.
“A strike is the last resort,” Brown said. “When we got involved in the negotiations, there was nothing that should have been removed.”