It’s way too soon to tell for sure. But if press accounts are accurate, fact-finder Jane Rigler’s proposal may be a workable solution for the Port Authority labor dispute:

  • 3% annual wage increases (the Port Authority is offering 0%).
  • Increasing healthcare premium payments for employees and future retirees (union wants to keep the status quo.)
  • Starts to get a handle on retiree healthcare costs by requiring some workers who retire before age 65 to pay 100% of their health insurance premiums (union wants to keep the status quo).
  • Does not address the growing absenteeism problem, OT procedures, and other work rule changes (Port Authority wants but the union opposes.)

Said fact-finder Rigler of her recommended settlement: “Local 85 employees will see their wages increase while, at the same time, continue to enjoy an enviable benefits package.”

Until the numbers are crunched, it’s impossible to say whether her proposal does enough to control the Port Authority’s $685 million health care liability for current workers and future/current retirees. And a contract without work rule changes will continue to make managing the Port Authority a task more difficult than it needs to be.

The two sides have until Sept 13 to either accept or reject the recommended settlement. If either rejects it, then negotiations continue but the union would then be legally permitted to go on strike if it chooses.

Posted by: Ken Zapinski

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