Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:10 PM
The union representing Greater Cleveland RTA workers has rejected recommendations that would have headed off some cuts in service.
RTA officials were hoping transit union workers would go along with recommendations by a state-appointed fact-finder that would freeze wages for 30 months, scale back health care benefits and eliminate the annual longevity bonus for long-time employees. RTA President Joe Calabrese says doing so would allow the agency to restore some of the 12 percent cuts in service approved last winter, and allow some of the 130 workers slated for layoffs to keep their jobs.
Calabrese: So it was pretty much a wage neutral proposal, one where RTA’s cost would increase in terms of wages but be reduced by about the same level in terms of benefits, which is not what we had hoped for but one we thought we could live with moving forward. That’s what was rejected by the union.
This will be the second major cut in service and staff since county sales tax receipts - RTA's primary funding source - began plummeting with the onset of recession. Calabrese says even with signs the economy is beginning to recover, it will take as long as ten years for those revenues to return to pre-recession levels. Contract negotiations have been ongoing since before the latest 3-year contract expired last July. Service cuts and layoffs take effect Sunday.