Strike would disrupt commute for thousands

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DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT) -- Members of the Local ATU 1385 has voted to strike over contract negotiations with the Greater Dayton RTA.

RTA was notified in a letter sent Tuesday, but the strike will not be final until the union notifies the State Employment Relations Board, at which point there would be a 10-day period before workers could stop reporting for their shifts.

Negotiations have been ongoing since May 2015 between both parties, over salary and benefits.

If the strike is finalized, it would shut down the entire bus system, according to RTA officials, save a few who depend on a special service for medical needs.

"It's not just them, it's not just the drivers who are affected by this," said Jamesia Ruffin, who rides RTA buses every day. "You don't have drivers, you don't have commuters."

"We certainly hope it doesn't happen for both our customers and the employers in the region who depend on us every day," said RTA CEO Mark Donaghy.

Donaghy said there are 30,000 people who use RTA around the Miami Valley every day.

"We would operate a smaller version of our product mobility service," he said about the possible strike looming. "Things like dialysis, cancer treatments one way or another they would get covered."

"The idea of holding them hostage in order to get what you want is something we find a little distasteful," he continued.

But union representatives tell FOX 45 they are fighting for the raise they haven't had in two years and for better healthcare than the high-deductible plan they say is not reasonable with their current salaries.

"It's not like RTA can snap its finger and say we want lower health costs, come on Anthem, come on United Health Care, and do that," said Donaghy.

"People have families, they have kids and college and stuff like that, and you have to be able to pay for these things," said Ruffin, adding she feels for the workers threatening strike, but she would have no way to get to work if they follow through on their threat.

"That puts the citizens of Dayton at risk because if you're not working, we can't work," she said.

There are dates on the table for an additional meeting to negotiate, according to RTA officials, the first of which could be at the end of November.

The final contract RTA put on the table for Local ATU 1385 includes a 2 percent raise every year over a three-year contract.

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