The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 have reached an agreement to approve a new three-year contract. Members of ATU Local 627 voted to approve the terms on January 6 and the contract, which runs through October 2023, will be effective immediately and is retroactive to November 2020.
SORTA says the new agreement will result in higher pay rates and increased benefits for unionized SORTA staff, including bus drivers and maintenance workers.
“Our dedicated operators and maintenance teams serve our community every day,” said SORTA CEO and Managing Director Darryl Haley. “As we invest in improved and innovative services for our passengers, this new contract allows us to properly reward and compensate our staff for their hard work and the invaluable service they provide. It also helps us in our ongoing efforts to attracting and retaining talent in this fiercely competitive job market, all of which ultimately means better service for our community.
“I am very pleased that we were able to agree to a new contract with SORTA that meets the needs of our members and keeps Cincinnati moving for our customers,” added Troy Miller, President of ATU Local 627.
Like so many other industries across the country, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, SORTA says it has experienced a deep and persistent shortage of drivers. SORTA adds that reaching this agreement with ATU marks a critical step in expanding its reach throughout Hamilton County through the completion of the Reinventing Metro plan service improvements, which will benefit the entire community. community with better service to jobs, school and medical services.
Highlights of the contract include:
- Salary increases of 2.5% every six months, retroactive to January 2021
- $21 per hour starting wage increase for new operators (after paid training)
- Highest annual wage increases for operators and mechanics, reaching $32.39 per hour and $34.33 per hour, respectively, at the end of the contract
- New “pay premium” structure for operators operating high traffic routes to ensure more reliable service for the greatest number of customers
- Improved work-life balance for staff through more stable working hours, which will also help recruit and retain talent
SORTA says the new deal marks the largest contract increase in the agency’s history and is among the largest seen across the country.