PAT Board Approves New Contract For Drivers, Mechanics

Dec 20, 2016

A crimson Port Authority bus is reflected in a car's side mirror traveling northbound on Ohio River Blvd. on Friday, August 12, 2016.
Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County board of directors approved a four-year contract with the union representing 2,200 bus and light-rail drivers, as well as mechanics Tuesday morning.

The special meeting lasted less than five minutes and came two days after members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 gave their approval to the agreement.

The contract includes an 11.25 percent wage increase for workers – 2.75 percent in the first three years and 3 percent in the fourth year.

The contract also gives workers more choices in their health care plans, according to Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean. She said workers can choose plans from either UPMC or Highmark.

“By moving out of the old plan, we are no longer grandfathered under the Affordable Care (Act), so it means preventive care is free," she said. "There’s no co-pay on it."

A very similar proposal had been rejected by members in September. ATU local president Steve Palonis said union members didn't have enough information about the deal at the time.

PAT board chair Bob Hurley said the contract will help the authority manage personnel costs over the next four years.

“We’re very happy,” he said. “We’ve got four years of stability with our drivers and mechanics who have worked very hard over the last couple years to help improve the system.”

Drivers and mechanics had been working without a contract since June 30.

The approval comes less than two weeks before changes to PAT’s fare structure are to be implemented, simplifying payment and eliminating zones. Those changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.