Another 11th Hour Plan
Roughly three months after citizens were treated to Pittsburgh City Council embarking on a series of pension solutions that stretched until New Years’ Eve (hours before a state-imposed deadline) we now have the events that transpired at today’s Port Authority board meeting.
In sum, service cuts amounting to 15% of service were to go into effect Sunday the 27th; the board was set to discuss an offer by a private operator to take over two routes that the Authority was vacating as part of those service cuts.
Then came a late-minute plan by the transit union: they would forego next year’s 3% wage increase, take a 10% pay cut now, and in exchange avert the service cuts (and by extension, the opportunity for PAT to contract with the outside vendor). The union’s proposal amounts to $18 million, some $12 million short of what the County Executive insisted was necessary to bridge the gap. As of this writing the PAT board is considering the offer and is supposed to determine this evening if the offer is palatable. If it is, the union will vote on the concessions tomorrow.
This messy episode (it is not the first last minute plan hatched to avert cuts or financial problems at PAT) could have been handled differently. The board could have not entertained any concessions of less than $30 million; they could have told the union to feel free to make concessions but they were going to go forward with their cuts and, if concessions proved solid, would consider restoring service and employees. Instead, they, like City Council and City staff in December, are under a ticking clock trying to rush and determine if the plan is viable.