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.