Contract Negotiations

I wanted to give our members at Port Authority an update on the contract negotiations and as you all know the current contract expires on Friday April 30th. We have a meeting scheduled for today (Wednesday) and another one on Friday, we will have a mediator present for both sessions to try and help both sides reach an agreement. If we don't reach an agreement by friday everyone still needs to show up for work and do their job as we will continue to meet so we can get a fair agreement for the members to vote on.

We have made progress in the recent weeks as both sides have made compromises during this process. I believe we will get to a fair agreement, i just ask that everyone continue to support us as we work to get improvements to our contract.

Port Authority - Contract Negotiations

We met with the Company for the first time on March 4th and both sides exchanged proposals and went through each one to explain it and give the other side a chance to ask questions, we are scheduled to meet on March 11th to continue working on an agreement before the contract expires on April 30th. We will provide as much information as possible but will not be able to give much detail until we get close to an agreement. We will need everyone's support as we go through this process to get the best agreement possible.

Port Authority changes in works

Bill would shift control of transit agency's board from county executive June 11, 2013 12:14 am

By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau  

HARRISBURG -- A proposed bill in the state Senate would strip the Allegheny  County executive of the power to shape the Port Authority board.

The bill, which was voted out of a Senate committee Monday, would give more  power to state legislators to appoint the agency's board members.

The proposal, put forth by Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, a Republican  from rural Jefferson County, would grant appointing authority for the board  to a broader group of officials including the governor, legislative leaders, the  Allegheny County executive, county council and the mayor of Pittsburgh.

Currently, all nine members of the board are appointed by the Allegheny County  executive and approved by county council.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald blasted the bill Monday as politically motivated  and Mr. Scarnati as unwilling to meet with him to discuss the matter.

Mr. Fitzgerald said he is not opposed to some board members being state  appointees, but said as it stands now, he believes the bill would undo overhauls  that have strengthened the Port Authority in the past 18 months such as $60  million in union concessions, work rule changes, a more proactive board  in respect to economic development and more private contributions for  sponsorships.

"You need to have somebody in charge. You cannot run this agency by  committee," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

The Port Authority has struggled with route cuts, fare increases and retiree costs  in recent years.

Mr. Scarnati's legislation would change the agency's board from nine to 11  members: one appointee from the governor, one from the Senate president pro  tem, one from the Senate minority leader, one from the speaker of the House,  one from the House minority leader, one appointee from the mayor of Pittsburgh,  one from the Allegheny County executive and four jointly appointed by two atlarge county council members.

The bill also directs PennDOT "to study and analyze potential modernization  proposals ... including regionalization, consolidation, and privatization of  services," according to a memo circulated about the bill. A report would then  make recommendations to elected officials and the board "in regards to initiatives  which could be undertaken to achieve cost-saving and efficiency goals.

Mr. Scarnati believes that since about half of the Port Authority's funds comes  from the state, legislators should have more say than they do now.

"With all this state money going into it, I think the state has significant skin in the  game and ought to have a seat at the table," he said.

State assistance accounts for 54 percent of the Port Authority's total operating  budget, agency spokesman Jim Ritchie said. He said the agency has no position  on the bill.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority -- which serves Bucks,  Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties -- has a board that  includes appointees from the governor and House and Senate leaders.

Mr. Scarnati said he has spoken with Mr. Fitzgerald about the matter, as well as  having met with Allegheny County Democratic senators such as Jay Costa, Jim  Brewster and Jim Ferlo.   

Mr. Fitzgerald "wants to keep some unbridled control over the entire authority,"  Mr. Scarnati said.

Mr. Scarnati's bill passed the Senate appropriations committee Monday by a 16- 10 vote; it could get a vote before the full Senate as early as Wednesday.

Mr. Costa, of Forest Hills, the Senate's Minority leader who unsuccessfully  offered amendments to the bill Monday, said he would favor appointments by  the governor and legislative leaders -- but with four appointments continuing to  be from the Allegheny County executive, as well as other appointments from  Democrats and Republicans on county council.

Both Mr. Ferlo and Mr. Costa, speaking in a committee meeting Monday, called  Mr. Scarnati's bill "overreaching."

Tentative Agreement Reached

Port Authority and Local 29 came to a tentative agreement on 4/28/2020 to extend their contract for one year with a 2.5% wage increase. Also included in the agreement are 5 sick days for all new hires and members with less than 3 years of service. The negotiation process started off as it usually does by meeting in person and exchanging proposals, but from that point on in March everything changed due to COVID-19.

Both sides realized that this would not be a normal negotiation since we could no longer meet face to face, and we agreed to make it as simple as possible and limit our proposals. From that point on everything was done via conference calls which made it difficult to judge the other side. We knew it would be hard to get the wage increase we wanted because of the uncertainty of the future that the COVID-19 has caused.

We were at a stalemate when we agreed to bring in a State Mediator to help us get over the hump to try and get a fair deal. With the unemployment sky high and many businesses closed we feel as though we ended up with a fair 1 year deal that will get us through to more normal times and a better contract next year.

Contract Ratified By Port Authority Members

The IBEW 29 Brothers and Sisters that work at Port Authority voted on a 1 year contract that will give them a 2.5% wage increase and additional sick time benefit for newer employees and zero takeaways. The new contract goes into effect as of May 1st 2020 after a mail in vote was conducted and all votes received by 5/6/20 were tallied and accepted by an overwhelming majority.

The Company must now take the tentative agreement to their Board of Directors for a vote. The Board does not meet until May 29th, and if the agreement is passed at that time the wages will be retroactive back to May 1, 2020.

This one year deal will get us through these unusual times until we can get back to normal negotiations next year. This negotiation was held via conference calls between both committees and our own committee when trying to decide what our next move was. The last week of negotiations we had a State Mediator join the conference calls which helped us get to an agreement. We normally would have a meeting to explain the contract and answer any questions may have but we were not able to do that due to COVID-19. A letter explaining the contract was sent out with the ballots to all the members, this is not the best way of holding a vote but again in these times we had to adjust.

With the current economic state, we are in I believe we reached a fair contract for the members at Port Authority and I am hopeful we can do the same next year when we meet again. 

I want to thank the negotiating committee members for their time and input, also I want to thank all of the members who voted and were patient and understanding during these difficult times.

Please continue to stay safe and virus free.

Kenn Bradley
Business Manager

Port Authority Updates

We have a date for the Telecomm Specialist re-evaluation arbitration of October 7th it was agreed to during negotiations that the arbitration would be expedited which due to the COVID-19 is as quick as we could get a date for it.