SORTA, ATU Local 627 reach new contract agreement

Jan. 12, 2022
The three-year agreement is retroactive and includes a higher starting wage, guarantees pay increases annually, as well as retroactive pay increases.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 have reached an agreement to approve a new, three-year contract. ATU Local 627 members voted to approve the terms Jan. 6 and the contract, which extends to October 2023, will go into effect immediately and is retroactive to November 2020.

SORTA says the new agreement will mean higher rates of pay and increased benefits for SORTA’s union-member staff, including bus operators and maintenance workers.

“Our dedicated operators and maintenance teams serve our community each and every day,” said SORTA CEO and General Manager Darryl Haley. “As we invest in improved and innovative services for our riders, this new contract allows us to properly reward and compensate our workforce for their hard work and the invaluable service they provide. It also helps us in our continued efforts to attract and retain talent in this fiercely competitive labor market. Ultimately, this all means better service for our community.”

“I am very pleased that we could agree on a new contract with SORTA that addresses the needs of our members and keeps Cincinnati on the move for our customers,” added Troy Miller, president of ATU Local 627.

Like so many other industries across the country, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SORTA says it has experienced a profound and persistent driver shortage. SORTA adds that reaching this agreement with the ATU marks a critical step in growing its reach throughout Hamilton County through the fulfillment of the Reinventing Metro plan service improvements, which will benefit the entire community with enhanced service to jobs, school and medical services.

Among the contract’s highlights are:

  • 2.5 percent wage increases every six months, retroactive to January 2021
  • Increased starting wage of $21 per hour for new operators (after paid training)
  • Yearly increases in top earning wages for operators and mechanics, reaching $32.39 per hour and $34.33 per hour, respectively, by contract’s end
  • New “premium pay” structure for operators running high-ridership routes to ensure more reliable service for the most customers
  • Improved work-life balance for staff through more stable shift times, which will also aid in recruiting and retaining talent

SORTA explains the new agreement marks the largest contractual increase in agency history and is among the largest seen across the country.