PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dozens of union members gathered at Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato’s office in downtown Pittsburgh today to voice their opinions on the latest round of Port Authority cuts.
The meeting started in Onorato’s office, but then moved to a nearby conference room because of the size of the group.
“Working class kids – their education is not going to be funded, their public schools aren’t going to be funded, their college isn’t going to be funded and you can’t get to work,” said one union member.
The meeting came less than a week after the Port Authority’s latest round of service cuts and the slashing of about 200 jobs. The dozens of union members who came out for the meeting told Onorato that they are bearing the burden of bad decision making.
The meeting was not organized by the transit union, instead by unions representing local service workers who they claim are the hardest hit by the route cuts.
“He needs to be a leader; he needs to not ask the hundreds of thousands of Pittsburghers who depend upon the mass transit system to get to work and to have a decent life; not ask them and the drivers who make this city go every day to bear the brunt of this crisis,” said Neal Bisno, the SEIU HealthCare Pennsylvania president. “He needs to stand up with us to his colleagues in Harrisburg and in Washington D.C. and make sure that this is about shared sacrifice.”
“They need to go back to the governor and explain to him this Act 44 is having a bad impact on the workers here and we’ve got to find other mechanisms to raise revenue so that we can operate as a society again. So people can go to work,” added Tony Helfer, of UFCW Local 23.
While Onorato said that the cuts could have been avoided if the transit union agreed to cut legacy costs and not just salary, both sides are headed back to the table. Still, that doesn’t mean the buses will be back any time soon.
“Beyond that, I don’t want to give false hope,” said Onorato. “No one knows what’s going to be said, but I think the public should know that there at least is a meeting schedule and we will be getting together.”