RTA, union head back to the table as strike looms

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DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT) - As thousands of riders rush through RTA terminals, thoughts about a looming strike make them wonder what's to come.

"It not only will hurt us as citizens, but it'll hurt the whole community," rider Wendell Robinson said.

After failed negotiations last week, RTA CEO Mark Donaghy is doubtful of a deal anytime soon.

"Now they seem to be wanting to add new demands that weren't on the table six months to a year ago," he said.

Donaghy says the biggest hangup right now is healthcare, and the company's switch to a high-deductible plan.

"What I was told Friday was they would never sign a contract, unless we gave them effectively what would be the old health insurance plan back," he said. "We cannot do that."

Today, the union planned to protest outside RTA headquarters before the meeting, but no one showed. Inside, residents and workers urged board members to consider their demands. Reps declined to make a statement to FOX 45.

But, Donaghy says the union is now backtracking on signed agreements they've made months before.

"I don't have a magic wand that I can wave and shower money down on these folks," he said. "It just doesn't happen."

The union wants a higher price point for pay, but Donaghy says he's tried to compromise.

"We offered two percent a year, in each of three years, plus a two percent lump sum amount," he said. "They're not happy with that."

As talks continue, Donaghy says the system is ready for a strike. Riders tell FOX 45 they've yet to find an alternative plan.

FOX 45 did try to talk with union reps at the meeting, they said they're not ready to make a statement. If a strike is called, they have to give 10 days notice before leaving their posts.

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