Dorsey Hager talks COTA agreement, ongoing projects and Columbus Airport on AWF

Columbus/Central Ohio Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager starts his March appearance on America’s Work Force Union Podcast by discussing the COTA agreement.

Last month, COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) approved a three-year labor contract with the Transport Workers of America Local 208. This agreement covers operators and maintenance employees of Local 208 with wage increases each year of the contract, enhanced insurance benefits and improved work-life balance.

Hager expressed his excitement for his union Brothers and Sisters and said TWU Local 208 President Jarvis Williams has done a great job making sure his members’ voices are heard.

Dorsey Hager

Dorsey Hager, C/COBCTC Executive Secretary-Treasurer

“This was a generational contract for this union and I know that in the past they’ve felt like their voices haven’t been heard at the bargaining table,” Hager said. “Jarvis took his members’ concerns to the bargaining table and did a great job not only for his members but also for the operators and mechanics in Central Ohio. 

This is a major win not just for the union but for COTA as they try to get more infrastructure done in Central Ohio that is essential for the economy, Hager said. 

COTA is creating a lot of jobs for underserved community members, which adds to the inclusion of the Central Ohio workforce and provides a public service by getting people to these jobs with public transportation. 

“The public transit system and COTA are essential to any workforce and economic strategy and both sides show what you can accomplish through Collective Bargaining,” Hager said. “It’s great not only for our city and county but for our entire region.” 

AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc noted that Central Ohio seems to be moving in the right direction when it comes to growth.

According to a report that came out this week, Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and it is growing at unprecedented rates.

Hager said the area needs a strong transit system for workers and businesses because not everyone has the means to drive to work and if everyone did, the roads would be more congested, which would be bad for not only the economy but for the quality of life in the region. 

There is a short supply of skilled mechanics and individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Ohio and this new contract provides workers with good pay, good benefits and great working conditions to where they can hopefully grow their service, retain the workers they have and attract more workers in the future. 

America's Workforce Radio Host Ed "Flash" Ferenc

America’s Workforce Radio Host Ed “Flash” Ferenc

Hager is glad the union was able to work out a contract and thinks this could segue COTA into a future relationship with the building trades. 

“When they put a tax increase on the ballot to help grow the COTA transit system, I will be out speaking in favor of it and urging our local unions to get behind it as well,” Hager said.

Hager then shared a quick update on the ongoing megaprojects in Central Ohio. Intel, Facebook, Google and Amazon are all expanding, keeping most of the trades busy. 

These big projects encourage more people to join the trades. Affiliated members of the C/COBCTC are given amazing opportunities and the building trades try to go out in the community to recruit more members to give others the opportunity to work on these big jobs. 

Hager also touched on the Intel project delay. Currently, there are about 900 tradespeople working on the jobsite, making the Intel project the third largest ongoing project in Ohio.

In a recent meeting, Bechtel, the general contractor for the $20 billion first phase of the project, has come out with an aggressive manpower schedule for the project and even has Building Futures graduates working on site right now. 

According to Hager, more fabs and chip plants are expected to be constructed over the next 25 to 30 years. 

To wrap up the interview, Hager gave Flash an update on the Columbus Airport terminal project that still does not have a Community Benefits Agreement in place despite the building trades efforts. 

“It’s very disappointing we don’t have an agreement to guarantee everyone will earn union wages and benefits, but we have a CEO and President of a major board that’s appointed by the Democrats in this county that is ignorant enough not to know who to reach out to make sure this project is done right,” Hager said. 

Hager added that airport CEO Joe Nardone holds all the cards and the C/COBCTC is still willing to negotiate. 

“We want every person who works on that project to earn union wages, union healthcare and union pension so they can take part in this $2 billion project to provide for themselves and families to grow the middle class in Central Ohio,” Hager said.

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