Port Authority staff being ‘responsible’ with labor proposal, union leader says
Details were scarce Tuesday on Port Authority’s proposed contract with its unionized workers, but those who had seen or heard about the deal expressed hope the latest round of concessions would be enough to save the transit agency from potentially disastrous cuts.
Some workers were getting their first glimpse of the contract after the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 reached a tentative agreement Thursday with the Port Authority. They said some copies were handed out at Port Authority facilities; others were supposed to be delivered by mail to workers’ homes.
“I’m not hearing a lot of questions or concerns (from the employees),” said Joseph Bahorich, a union representative for the first-line maintenance workers. “It’s all pretty self-explanatory.”
The main hope was that if a majority of the union’s 2,300 active workers ratify the agreement Sunday, it would be enough to trigger an additional $35 million in support from the state, fill a $64 million operating deficit and head off major cuts and layoffs that are scheduled to take effect next month.
Gov. Tom Corbett has indicated he’d like to see a long-term solution to the Port Authority’s funding problems.
“As far as I am concerned, this is the third contract in a row where we’ve had concessions,” Bahorich said. “This is a big step for the union. We’re being responsible; now it’s (Gov. Corbett’s) turn to be responsible.”
Most who had seen the contract declined to give details, citing a pledge among the union, Port Authority and Allegheny County not to discuss it publicly until it is ratified.
Employees who asked not to be named and discussed the contract said it would allow the Port Authority to seek outside contractors to perform some tasks done in-house, such as property maintenance.
It also would require employees to contribute more toward their retirements, though specifics were not divulged.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].