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Press Release8/17/2023

COTA and TWU Local 208 Announce New Policy to Provide Up to 12 Weeks of Paid Family Leave to Employees

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and Transportation Workers of America, Local 208 (TWU) today announced a new collectively bargained Paid Family Leave policy. In addition to TWU-represented employees, COTA is making the paid policy available to all COTA employees who are starting or expanding their families. The new policy allows parents and children to recover from childbirth, ease the transition into family life, create strong new bonds, and establish new routines as a family without taking on additional financial hardship. The Paid Family Leave policy goes into effect retroactively from January 1, 2023, and includes coverage for birthing and non-birthing parents who are employed at COTA.

“Providing full pay family leave benefits is a critical step to support our COTA employees across the organization, from frontline workers to administrators,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “Helping our employees establish healthy families is the right thing to do for our organization and society as a whole. In the absence of a national policy, COTA and other organizations can implement such policies to help employees and their families thrive. We want to thank TWU Local 208 for working with us to develop this crucial and comprehensive policy.”

COTA’s paid family leave policy will help meet the needs of employees from all backgrounds and their families alike and allows birthing parents to receive full pay for 12 weeks, while non-birthing parents, adoptive parents and domestic partners of birthing parents will receive full pay for 6 weeks.

“TWU is pleased this paid family leave benefit is now available to hundreds of our members who work every day to provide essential service to our community while also caring for their families,” said Jarvis Williams, TWU Local 208 President. “We negotiated for this policy, and it is a step in the right direction for COTA and the transportation industry, and we hope it encourages others to follow suit. America’s unions have taken the lead on fighting for paid leave benefits for all workers and we will continue to do so moving forward.”

Nationwide, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 23% of workers had access to paid family leave in 2021, and of those who do, they only receive eight weeks of leave. That means 116 million people in the U.S. lack access to paid family leave through their jobs, and in Ohio, workers lose nearly $3,100 when taking just four weeks of unpaid leave, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. The organization also found 12 weeks paid leave significantly improves the health of birthing parents and babies and reduces the rate of infant and maternal mortality, which disproportionately impacts people of color. Research also shows paid family leave access reduces the rate of re-hospitalization by 51% and increases immunization uptake for infants. The U.S. Department of Labor also reports that unionized workers are more likely to have paid leave benefits compared to non-union workers.

“With economic challenges faced by so many across the nation, COTA’s ability to provide our team members with full paid family leave is critical to ensuring that our most important asset – our people – get a strong, healthy start without worrying about their finances,” said COTA Board of Trustees Chair Marlon Moore. “With this policy, we believe COTA sets a national example for the transportation industry on how progressive benefits that put families and our people first can lead to better employment and a stronger workforce, as well as healthier and economically strong communities.”

COTA’s paid family leave qualifying events include the following:

  • Giving birth to a child,
  • Spouse or domestic partner of a person who has given birth to a child; or
  • Adoption of a child or granted legal custody or guardianship of a minor child.

Full-time or part-time employees at COTA are eligible for paid family leave beginning the first of the month following the date of their hire. Employees will also continue to accrue vacation time during leave and paid holidays do not count as paid family leave days. COTA employees are also not required to take sick leave prior to taking paid family leave.