Workers of the Pittsburgh-area transit agency have ratified a new four-year contract that will head off job and service reductions.
The 2,300 workers cast their votes on Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The pact includes a wage freeze, more pension contributions by workers, and health care concessions.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 president Stephen Palonis says the contract was ratified by "an overwhelming majority." He says if the contract had not passed, 560 of the union's 2,200 members would have lost their jobs. The vote came in at nearly 12 to 1 in favor of the deal.
"This contract and the one that preceded it four years ago represents sacrifices on the part of our members totaling $100 million in hard cash in two votes spanning a period of less than five years. Make no mistake about it. The men and women of Local 85 have stepped up and done their part to save public transit in Allegheny County. Now the burden rests with the Port Authority, the County and, most importantly, the state."
The statement from Palonis continued.
"The Governor has to lead the way to passing legislation establishing a dedicated and sustainable funding source for public transit in Pennsylvania or we will find ourselves facing another funding crisis in less than a year."
The Port Authority issued a brief statement in reaction to the union's vote. "We're pleased with the outcome and look forward to the vote of the Port Authority Board of Directors on Tuesday."
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald was pleased by the union's ratification. "I am grateful for their willingness to be a partner with us in finding a long-term solution to funding for public transit in our region. Their officers and membership showed great leadership today and we look forward to the subsequent vote of the Port Authority Board on Tuesday."
The union and the Port Authority have said ratifying the contract would avoid the largest cuts in the agency's history and a 35-percent cut in bus and light-rail service, starting Sept. 1.
Gov. Tom Corbett said the state would not increase transit subsidies without the concessions.