Onorato Urges Transit Union to Let Membership Vote on Pact

Article excerpt

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato called on Port Authority's drivers' union Monday to let its members vote on a state fact-finder's proposal that labor leaders rejected.

"I think something this serious deserves a vote of the rank and file," Onorato said. "At least then you know what the rank-and-file members think."

Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union's 20-member executive board on Friday unanimously rejected the recommended contract drafted by the fact-finder. The Port Authority's board accepted the proposal, authored by Jane Rigler, a former law professor assigned to the dispute by the state Labor Relations Board.

Local 85 President Pat McMahon said union leaders will not call for a vote because they know the terms are unacceptable. Onorato should not negotiate through the news media or attempt to control the union's decisions, McMahon said.

"Dealing with Dan Onorato is very frustrating because he contradicts himself so much and you never know where you stand," McMahon said.

Rigler's plan would create minimal savings at the authority during the next three years -- less than $1 million -- or about one- quarter of 1 percent of the authority's $350.3 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Port Authority sought $10 million in savings from a labor contract this year and $20 million in the next fiscal year.

Authority CEO Steve Bland said yesterday he does not know if accepting Rigler's proposal would force the agency to increase fares. The authority increased its base fare in January by 25 cents for most urban riders and 35 cents in the suburbs. …