Labor offer slated to be spelled out for Port Authority workers
Unionized Port Authority workers will start reviewing a proposed contract in preparation for a vote Sunday on the undisclosed deal to save the public agency from massive cuts.
Printers are making copies of the contract for distribution to the 2,200 working members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 on Tuesday or Wednesday, officials said, though members are under strict orders not to talk about details of the contract until after the union and Port Authority’s board have a chance to ratify it.
“The members will have it in their hands within a couple of days,” Local 85 President Stephen Palonis said. “They’ll be able to get answers to any questions they have at the ratification meeting.”
The contract expired June 30.
ATU board members and union representatives will address members’ questions before the vote and stay at the voting location with the union’s legal counsel.
Union members can cast ballots all day Sunday. A simple majority — 50 percent plus one vote — is required for ratification. The Port Authority board will vote a day or two later if it’s approved.
Representatives of the authority, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Gov. Tom Corbett and the ATU pledged not to talk about the contract’s specifics.
Mike Allen, board representative for the Collier Garage, said he has heard questions and concerns from coworkers. Even though the Collier Division is slated for closure if the authority cannot avert cuts, he said the questions are more about big-picture issues.
“Anytime anything changes, we get a lot of questions. … I think the majority of members’ concerns are for the riding public,” Allen said.
The contract and any concessions it includes are key to preventing a 35 percent service cut and hundreds of layoffs from taking effect Sept. 2.
Fitzgerald, an unofficial mediator during negotiations, expressed hope that the savings in the contract and from management would be enough to prompt the state to chip in up to $35 million more this year to help the authority cover a $64 million deficit in its $333.1 million budget.
Corbett has said he wants to see significant concessions first.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].