Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The heads of The Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have reached a tentative contract agreement. The current contact expired in June and the authority had planned to implement a new contract next month. Union Leadership had said that would amount to a lockout and the system would be shut down. AFL-CIO leaders had called for authority CEO Steve Bland and ATU 85 President Pat McMahon to Washington over the weekend to begin hashing out a new deal. The AFL-CIO reportedly initiated "shuttle negotiations" with the two sides not meeting face to face for several days but still moving forward on a list of issues. Bland says the negotiations benefited from being outside of the county. The 2,300 union mechanics and drivers are expected to be presented with the details of the deal soon and the PAT board would follow with a vote later. Pension and benefits were among the major stumbling blocks during the negotiations with the authority saying it had to get "legacy costs" under control and the union saying it needed to protect its retired members and those looking to retire. Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato has not said if the terms of the deal are enough to get him to release millions of dollars in poured drink and car rental taxes he has been holding. He has said he will release them when the authority gets its financial house in order.