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Rail News: Labor

Labor deal enables Pittsburgh port authority to postpone service cuts


Yesterday, the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s board postponed a planned 35 percent service reduction until at least Aug. 31, 2013, following the ratification of a new labor contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 85.

A tentative pact was reached Aug. 9, ATU members ratified it on Aug. 12 and the port authority approved it yesterday.

The authority announced in January that it would have to cut service by 35 percent this September because of funding constraints. But because of the “cooperation and commitment” by the ATU, authority and state, no service cuts will occur in September, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in a prepared statement.

The union contract provides $60 million in savings to the authority over the next four years. The pact expires on June 30, 2016.

The contract includes a two-year wage freeze, resulting in a savings of $19.6 million; an increase in employee pension contributions from 5.5 percent to 10.5 percent of wages, providing $26.8 million in savings; and changes to vacation eligibility, resulting in another $11.3 million in savings, authority officials said.

In addition, the union has agreed to reopen the contract in 2014 to modify health-care coverage and has committed to reduce health-care spending by $1.8 million.  A remaining savings of $300,000 will be achieved by using existing forces and equipment at a lower cost than contracting.

Port authority management will provide an additional $10 million in savings by increasing pension contributions of non-represented employees from 4.5 percent to 10.5 percent, as well as departmental cost reductions.

“These changes not only help preserve transit service today, they are a significant step toward protecting public transportation in Allegheny County for many years,” said Steve Bland, the port authority’s chief executive officer.

Allegheny County is providing an additional $4.5 million in funding and will do so without raising taxes; about $1.5 million will come from drink and rental tax revenues with no increase over the current rate, Fitzgerald said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/22/2012