Editorial - COTA on Strike

Bryan Curtiss, Writer

At 3:00 A.M. Eastern Daylight Savings Time yesterday, bus operators and maintenance workers for the Central Ohio Transit Authority, represented by Transport Workers Union Local # 208 walked off the job, creating the first work stoppage for COTA in 25 years.

For the first time ever, there will be no public transportation service to the Red, White, and Boom fireworks due to this work stoppage.

According to COTA President and CEO Curtis Stitt, COTA negotiated in "good faith" with the Union, but the Union rejected two contract proposals, including one tonight.

When the latest contract proposal was rejected tonight, I was hoping that there would be a definitive answer into why the strike is continuing onward. However, Transport Workers Union Local # 208 President Andrew Jordan did not go into specific details on the 11:00 News tonight.

This is going to be a long and hot summer for COTA riders trying to get around. While some riders are able to get around fine, many riders are disabled and unable to drive.

COTA bus operators on Facebook and on the local Columbus website Columbus Underground voiced their concerns regarding safety and the working conditions on the buses.

In Monday's Columbus Dispatch, Mayor Michael B. Coleman was quoted as saying the strike is "irresponsible" on the Union's part. Mayor Coleman is right. The strike by COTA is irresponsible, at a time where the city has seen its hottest temperature in 13 years this past week, at a time where the heat index is in the triple digits, and at a time where the economy is still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Yes, it's Unions that make this country work, but this strike has seen the ugly downside of Unions. The whole Senate Bill 5 debate last year in Ohio proved that Unions are not done fighting until they won the fight, and in this case, the Union is still fighting. Both COTA and the Union drafted a proposal for hours on Sunday with a federal mediator. However, the Union still would not back down, and continued with a strike.

There is no winner in this. The Union doesn't win. The bus riders don't win. The community and taxpayers at large don't win, and neither does COTA.

The last time COTA went on strike (November 1986 to February 1987), the strike dragged on for over nine weeks (65 days total), causing many people to lose their jobs because they had no way to get to work. It will be a matter of time before this happens with this strike, should the strike carry over into the coming days and weeks.

While there will be no bus service for the coming days, ask friends for rides, continue making arrangements around your schedule. Hope that the two sides will come to a fair and equal agreement. But until that moment in time comes, this strike won't be over anytime soon.

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