Clock ticking on COTA strike

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Clock ticking on COTA strike

The Central Ohio Transit Authority's main union could go on strike as early as Dec. 5.

The union, Transportation Workers Union Local 208, gave the authority its formal notice of intention to strike on Tuesday. The union needed to give 10 days' notice before walking off the job.

Union workers voted down a tentative contract Sunday, and another negotiating session is set for Friday.

COTA said Wednesday its contingency plan calls for reductions in service. It will release the reduced schedule to the public soon.

COTA officials have said they need concessions from the union to plug a budget shortfall currently estimated at $2.9 million for 2005. COTA's main source of revenue, the county sales tax, has underperformed. The bus system has been hit by spiking fuel prices.

The tentative contract included some pay hikes, but union members objected to increases in health care premiums. The contract called for union members to pay 10 percent of their health costs within three years, with higher premiums for workers hired after Dec. 1.

Seeking revenue, the authority's board approved fare increases for many routes Tuesday