Port Authority, Union Remain At Odds Over Possible Cuts

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The war of words continues between the Port Authority and the union that represents drivers and mechanics.

They are at odds over a plan to cut service by 15 percent next month, and slash about 200 jobs. On Thursday morning, union leaders took their fight to the streets.

The rally started in Mellon Square an hour before this morning meeting, and made its way into the Port Authority board room.

Both sides have been at odds for what seems like a long time.

They were unified in their push for Harrisburg to provide additional funding. Then came the $45 million from former governor Ed Rendell, and now both sides seem to have never been so fiercely opposed to each other.

The union says the board should use the money now, rather than spreading it over time. However, the Port Authority says doing that means a $55 million deficit by next year.

“The most responsible thing is make that gift last as long as possible to benefit as many people as possible,” said Port Authority CEO Steve Bland.

That’s framed by this dispute over a scheduled meeting that never happened.

“I had a meeting scheduled with my general counsel and the board of directors at eight o’clock this morning, and they canceled it. They don’t want to hear another plan, it’s their plan and that’s what they’re going to do,” said Patrick McMahon, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 president. “They’re not listening to anyone else but Steve Bland.”

“My understanding is that Mr. McMahon approached some of our board members on advice of their counsel, it was a violation of the Sunshine Act,” said Bland. “So, the response was, we’d love to have you speak at our meeting; and any information you have, we’d like you to share.”

McMahon says his membership will continue their own push in the hopes of reversing those changes.

“We’re going to make every attempt to engage the taxpaying public, and maybe it makes sense to consider those opinions when you renew Steve Bland’s employment contract. It needs to be questioned,” he said.

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  • Richard

    I heard there are some private transit companies that are trying to get a foot-hold in Pittsburgh. That would be great, maybe they could eventually force the Port Authority out. One can only hope. With cuts, fare hikes, rude bus drivers and poorly maintained equipment it’s only a matter of time! Goodbye and good riddance I would say! Another union fail in the makings.

    • Don Waldo

      think about this . Double the amount to ride if private companies take over . Your goverment will be funding the new transit companies! wake up.

    • Jim Lokay

      If someone has a viable private model, let’s hear it. Bland says no one has been beating down the door with offers.

    • Bill

      Thats right clown and they are also charging double the cost to ride the bus but thats okay make the rich richer. also for your information there is a lot of maintiance done on these busses the terian around here and the riders are the problem with the equipment so i say pay for gas what ever the price of the day is and 50% parking tax to the city so they can invest in more 1100.00 trash cans then with the money save our politians can give them self a bigger pay check and more benfits no one ever seems to mind how large there salaries are or that they have the best health care in the country and after 8 years in office get for life time for them and there family and a pension hell we shoild be able to retire in 8 years and have the tax payers pay for it . wake up and smell coffee

  • Bob Lozano

    PAT is the poorest run organization in Pittsburgh. PAT makes the special people working at the DMV look somewhat normal. PAT buses drivers are so nice that they provide curtosy training to the whatever’s working the cash registers at the downtown Wendy’s. Good bye PAT and your drain on the Pgh Economy.

    • TOM

      Bob Lozano why do you have to put down the folks working at wendy’s or the dmv? why belittle them ? at least they are working and contributing to society.

    • Bill

      Bob your an idiot knocking the folks at the DMV and Wendys and dont worry about the Pittsburgh economy once Pats gone your politians can give them self even better benfits and bigger pay raises and perks. So you will still be paying more.

  • Fed up with you

    Why do we keep giving tax payer money to a BROKEN system like Port Authority. No more money to the greedy Port Authorty board members and to the employees. Time for cuts! I quit riding the bus and willing to pay $20 a gal for gas before riding a PA bus. Let them go bankrupt like GM so they too can start over.

    • Don Waldo

      get real . you will pay $20 a gal before you ride a bus. what do you know about BROKEN system You know only from new papers and new stations. Do you think they are telling the truth .GET REAL. WAKE UP

      • petey

        your right-private will pick and choose routes,high costs, if private is so good why is Turzai pushing only for Allegheny Co. to privatize? Philly-Septa- there budget problems are coming this June, The Union got what they got-because management had same or better–quit blaming the working man. Bland makes almost 200,000 to run a company almost half the size it was. the union gave up alot and will continue to be reasonable in future contracts. The 2,000 plus employees at PAT pay taxes and probably use some of the stupid posters here business’ or services, no one has a free ride and soon many will have no ride,

    • Bill

      Oh your so right do away with it so the low income cant get to thier minimum wage jobs or the elderly to the doctors and dont forget to let those handicap citizens fin for thier selves. Yes companys like lenzner will come in and charge double the cost for a bus ride and you can bet your but they arent going to offer service in the poor areas. Then our wonderfull politians can put more money in thier pay checks after all they need it more than the working man. it is great they get top of the line benfits and dont pay a dime and after 8 years in office they get it for them and thier family for the rest of thier life and dont forget about the pension they get too. So pay 20.00 a gallon to the greedy oil cartell and the 50% parking tax in the city cause the good lord knows they need to invest in more 1100.00 trash cans and bail out there pensions that they miss handle. And the those people can quit thier low paying jobs and sit at home and collect off the welfare system not to mention all the other companys that Pat deals with that will loose thousands of dollars and lay thier workers of yes your a genius your plan sounds great for the intire area.

  • BOB


    • TOM

      BOB you are sadly mistaken

  • Mary

    No private company wants to get a foot hold in Pgh!!!!! They are not beating down the door. We had private companies. LISTEN PEOPLE…it didnt work. Thats why PAT is here. The previous companies only wanted to provide select routes. Routes they wouldnt lose so much $$ on. Well, thats not a transit system for a large metro area!! Public transit is not a money-making proposition.
    YES PAT was mismanaged in the past. The upper echelon gave themselves many perks. The union saw this, wanted their cut or else they would go public with their knowledge. So they got things too. We got rid of the old management and current employees have made over $50 million yearly concessions. There is still a problem with PAT “legacy costs” though. (Retirees who get LOTS of benefits and from what I understand this can NOT be changed). PAT is not “broken”. It provides a great service to Allegheny County. The way routes have been reconfigured is saving money. Dont blame a few for what happened in the past. But lets work on those legacy costs. I, for one, do not want to see more cars on roads that are already in terrible shape. Remember…a transportation funding bill includes money for roads, bridges etc. PLEASE NOTE: Some time ago, an article in the paper gave a rating system of 0 – 100 for our bridges. 2 or 3 bridges scored “1”. My thought on that? They were given 1 point because they were still standing (and hadnt collapsed yet)!!!!!!! SAD SAD SAD. I dont want to be in the middle of it when it falls…..do you?

  • katie

    Take away Bland’s parking spot & make him take a bus to & from work each day

    • Jim Lokay

      True story: Bland does ride the bus. Not sure how often…

  • sheilat.

    Many union workers make over $100,000 with their pay and cadillac health plan and pension plans. Their contribution to health care and pension is so miniscule it’s laughable but they will fight not to pay a penny more. It is unsustainable. Fire them all. Replacement workers will line up for miles to take their places.

    • dale

      yeah fire em all,–stupid– pay em 3 yrs unemployment, houses will be foreclosed-which will be good for your property values–let the people who serve your lattes, clean your offices,clothes,college and high school kids,elderly and disabled not be able to get around and to work,Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs attitude–whats in it for ME, let tax dollars pay for what i need and forget everyone else….

    • TOM

      sheilat , surely they will line up for miles, all the degenerates of society will come to apply for the job to drive you and the rest of the public around for a mear $9.00 an hour right after they get their license back from the dmv. private sector won’t discriminate about DUI’s, criminal backround or weather or not they can pass a drug test. yeah that’s what i want traveling the same streets with me more crackheads,

    • Bill

      If they make that much it is due to hours and hours of overtime also they pay into thier pension plans it isnt the unions that is in trouble it is the managments pension that is thats right compalin about them instead of jioning them you could have applied for a job there.

  • weegee

    Get rid of the Port Authority and start fresh with a new system.
    Get rid of the Port Authority union too.
    They are killing the city and reducing the viability of living and working in Pittsburgh.

    • TOM

      weegee, union wages stimulate the economy we are the one’s spending, and patronizing the businesses that you people work at or even own. maybe union members across the nation should stop spending and watch the rest of you sink.

    • Bill

      Yep smart move then you can pay twice as much for a bus ride put all the drug heads behind the wheels of those fourty foot busses and by the way we get people to thier jobs at a low cost for a ride but it wiuld be better to give the money to the greedy oil cartell and the ad mre air pol
      lution and make the roads worse also dont forget they can pay the citys 50% parking tax to help out withe 1100.00 garbage cans.

  • Jim Rowdy Roddey Piper

    We knew Pat could do less with more so lets let them do less with less for a while. The managers, unions, and yes the riders are all to blame for this mess. It will hurt a lot of people, but they’ll figure out a way to get to work or to the store I’m sure of it. Last time I checked walking was still FREE. Can’t walk? Ask someone for a ride. There are a lot of fat butts on the bus so its a win-win for them too.

  • Stinkin Linkon

    Maybe if the riders would pay there would be no money issue!My sister drives for PAT out of east liberty and they are told to not say anything if the passengers dont pay!

  • chuckie

    What salary envy most of you have. Just because you made your career choice and are not happy, you rant on about people trying to make a living. $100,000 a yr? Must be drining the Turzai, republican koolaid. A driver would have to work over 125 hrs a pay period, 6-7 days a week to do this. You jealous people would not give up your holidays and family time to do this. A handful of drivers do, and they desrve every penny!. A private co. wouldnt be able to keep up with rising fuel costs and maintainting a fleet of busses. And you could ride a bus with someone making 8 bucks an hour, no training,drug testing etc…Routes would not go to low income areas,fares would be around 5-6 bucks oneway -guaranteed. So when gas goes to 8 bucks a gallon and parking around 20 a day, hope you enjoy cutting deeper into your budgets. Allegheny County has a large population of people without a car. You sassy,ignorant suburbanites could care less. You probably live in a town or borough that counts on the state police, because your to cheap to have your own police depts.

    • Steve M

      Allegheny county does NOT have a large population of WORKING people without a car. And even if they did…SO WHAT! Us tax paying citizens shouldn’t have to subsidize THEIR tranportation. I pay for my transportation and everyone else should too. If they can’t afford it then that’s their issue and the government should not be allowed to extort more money from me (private sector) to subsidize their transportation.

      And if you think for a minute that non-union people haven’t worked holidays/family time then you’re obviously overdosing on your union koolaid. Unions not only get more ‘holidays’ than the private sector but they also get paid triple time when they work the same overtime that the private sector works. Oh, and if you think $100K+/year is a fallacy then you need to read more articles/watch more news/or request a govt expenditure list. Because it does indeed happen for PAT bus drivers.

      I don’t care if Pgh or a private company can not keep a bus line running. If it doesn’t make fiscal sense to do so then DON’T do it. I’m tired of my tax dollars subsidizing failing ‘business’. It’s time that failing govt divisions be shut down. The bottom line is that cities are going bankrupt because of programs that are financial losers.

      • chuckie

        im tired of my tax dollars probably supporting–or babysitting your kids, im tired of suburbs and boros using my tax dollars for your police protection, im tired of my tax dollars to subsidize private business with tax breaks and loans to get a business started.. you yuppies are pathetic-if it benefits you – your all for it. im sick of suburbanites paying a measley occupation tax and using pgh services, the list is endless, you people come into town, one per suv or yuppiemobile, probably pack your lunch work inside a cushy job, —im tired of paying for all your perks…

      • chuckie

        look at the list of salaries-almost all management, a few drivers do make money, in a way you wouldnt know–HARD WORK, when was the last time you were assaulted or spit on in your cubicle? How about driving a 40 ft bus in the snow or ice, you suburbanites cant even drive your suv’s in the snow. Until you walked the walk, dont talk the talk..Half of you couldnt even pass the drug test..You probably spent a $100,000 on your college education and are bitter that a person who works hard makes more than you do. Without unions, who fought for the 40 hr week and paid holidays and benefits you would be a part time worker, drink your koolaid,watch fox news,and when the stockmarket crashes and gas goes to 8 bucks a gallon, you will wish you had a bus to get you to store to use your foodstamps.

      • chuckie

        Allegheny County does have one of the highest public transportation dependent populations, look it up- use google while your at work, at your desk in a tax funded building,

      • TOM

        You disgust me, you are to ignorant to realise that there are poor people who cannot afford to pay for their next meal let alone pay for there transportation and while there republican’s keep them repressed to the point that they can’t dig themselves out of poverty you continue to worry only about youself. You know nothing about transportation, unions, the private sector or the little old lady that lives on a fixed income that depends on public transportation to go to the doctors, the grocery store or the bank to cash her measely social security check. Allegheny county does indeed have a large population of working people without a car. Public transportation is vital for any metropolitan area’s economic’s. go back to school Steve because you didn’t learn a thing !

  • Dave

    Gotta love the picture that shows a PAT employee holding a sign sayiing “we need bus service to get to our jobs.” Hopefully the taxpayers see through their self-serving publicity.

    • TOM

      Dave alot of bus driver’s do actually use the buses to get to and from work, it’s the green thing to do.

  • TOM

    One driver makes 100,000 because he doesn’t have a social life and works every bit of overtime that he can and these moron’s think that they all make that much. most top rate driver’s take home about 42,000 a year after taxes and live paycheck to paycheck. alot of them haven’t reached top rate. but enough about them lets talk about Steve Blands paycheck or checks

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  • TL

    Exactly Tom. $100,000 a year? Maybe 1 or 2 drivers (out of how many? 1200 or so). And they use that as their basis for what every driver makes. Absurd. Good God, if you make $80,000 a year as a driver you barely have any life outside the job. Who do they come after though? The blue collar working class driver making a middleclass income. Never fails. And this coming from people who either 1.) aren’t qualified or couldn’t do the job and 2.) aren’t willing to do the job.
    Bottom Line: come do the job. One day and all you bus driver bashing posters with your uninformed opinions would be changing your mind. One day. One trip thru Arlington Heights or Northview Heights on a Friday around 11PM will straighten you out real quick. Where were you all when PAT was doing all the hiring for drivers up until the last few years???
    Privatization? That means two things for certain: much higher fares and less service. LOL and my god could you imagine the quality of drivers you’ll get when they’re hiring for $10.00 an hour with no benefits and no pension? You think you’ll have a drug free work force with a clean driving record and a tolerance for working with the transit dependent public? LOL. You got be out of your mind.

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