Port Authority to Move Forward with Service Cuts
Layoffs and public transit reductions will begin as scheduled Sunday morning.
Despite last-minute concession proposals and a delayed board meeting, the Port Authority of Allegheny County will move ahead to cut public transit service by 15 percent and lay off 180 employees on Sunday.
The transit agency's Board of Directors voted unanimously in January to eliminate 29 bus routes, including the 25 Moon route, and lay off employees in an effort to stretch $45 million in highway funding provided by former Gov. Ed Rendell.
During an unusual meeting that began on Friday but recessed until Saturday afternoon, the board opted not to delay those service cuts in order to continue talks aimed at obtaining agreement on concessions from its workers.
County Executive Dan Onorato on Friday rejected a last-ditch proposal offered by the Amalgamated Transit Local 85 union, which represents Port Authority workers. Under that proposal, union members members would have taken a 10 percent wage cut and forgone a 3 percent wage increase. The union said its offer would have saved $18.6 million for the transit agency.
The board adjourned Friday's meeting early to examine the union's offer, which Port Authority CEO Stephen Bland said "feel short of the necessary savings." In turn, Onorato's office also provided the union with two alternative proposals, which the union rejected by opting not to present to its members for a vote.
The board reconvened its meeting this afternoon.
"Our problems lie on the revenue side," Bland said. "It's a faulty state transportation funding model that needs to be corrected."
Union President Patrick McMahon, who spoke during the public-comment portion of today's meeting, again asked the board to delay the service reductions for one week and to continue negotiations with the union.
"I think you have the ability to override Mr. Onorato," McMahon said. "It's up to you to do the right thing."
Board member Charles Martoni, who expressed support for the union during the meeting, asked other members to consider delaying the cuts for a week.
"I'm just speaking for myself, and I'm not running for anything here," said Martoni, who is also a member of Allegheny County Council. "I personally would like to see this delayed for one week."
The board went into an executive session to discuss delaying the cuts, but emerged only to quickly adjourn the meeting without taking further action. Union members, who filled the board room, derided board members as they exited the room.
"I don't know how they sleep with a decision like that," McMahon said following the meeting. "Exactly what they did in Wisconsin is happening here."
Port Authority officials have said the service and staffing cuts are necessary to counter increasing costs and a loss of state funding for public transit.
For a guide to the planned service cuts, go to the Port Authority's website here.