Why Cincinnati bus drivers might go on strike

Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-24 18:21:59-05

CINCINNATI  - Leaders with Metro and the union that represents the transit group’s employees are expected to head back to the negotiation table ahead of proposed Dec. 3 strike vote.

Officials with Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 confirmed Tuesday that a meeting is slated for Wednesday, Dec. 2 with the hopes of negotiating final terms of the new three-year contract. ATU chapter president Troy Miller declined to share the meeting time and location.

At issue is a Metro proposal to use smaller buses along routes where ridership has dipped -- negating the need for larger buses. But language in the proposed contract would prevent current Metro bus drivers from applying for those jobs unless their current position was eliminated, Miller said.

“Metro has asked to sit down and I want to hear what they have to say, and maybe we can come to an agreement,” Miller said. “I’m hoping that it all works out.”

The union’s contract with Metro expired Oct. 31.

If terms of a new contract can’t be agreed to, Miller has said the union -- which includes 700 Metro drivers and mechanics – is prepared to take a strike authorization vote on Dec. 3.

“A strike wouldn’t be good for the ridership, it wouldn’t be good for the employees and we know that,” said Miller. “Hopefully Metro says, ‘Let’s figure something out and get this done.’”

Officials with Metro declined to discuss negotiation details, but confirmed a meeting is planned for next week.

“We truly hope that we’re able to come to an agreement so that everyone can move forward,” said Sallie Hilvers, a spokeswoman for Metro. “Both sides are eager to talk. I don’t want to cause panic among our 60,000 riders per day.”

If a strike is authorized by the union, one would not occur immediately. Metro and the union are required to first meet with a state mediator. If terms aren’t agreed to from there, a 10-day waiting period would be required before a strike could begin, Miller said.