Colorado agency gets virus relief aid, reverses furloughs

DENVER (AP) — The Regional Transportation District in Colorado has halted layoffs for about 250 employees after it received more than $200 million from a $900 billion federal coronavirus relief aid package, officials said.

The agency also reversed furloughs and salary cuts that were planned for its highest-paid management employees, including a 7.5% pay cut for a dozen or so employees making more than $180,000, The Denver Post reported.

Despite receiving some financial respite, the agency is not calling back 90 non-union employees who left in recent weeks because their jobs are still deemed unnecessary given reduced agency services, spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said.

The coronavirus aid package was signed into law in late December by then-President Donald Trump. However, the agency by then had already started to notify employees of impending layoffs in January.

“We told them back at the beginning of December not to move forward with at least giving out the layoff notices,” said Lance Longenbohn, president of Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1001. “We told them the (pandemic aid) money was coming.”

Tonilas said the layoff process was already in motion after its newly elected board in November adopted the agency's budget, which included a $629 million operating plan. That plan will now increase with the federal aid.

“Our essential employees have continued to deliver service to those who need it most, and we are committed to doing so as we look ahead,” CEO Debra Johnson said in welcoming the relief funding.