Workers servicing the PATH train are calling for the Port Authority to come to the table and renegotiate a nine-year-old contract that upholds the healthcare coverage that members of the Transport Workers Union Local 2001 say they are entitled to.
Claiming that they face poor working conditions in tunnels with bad air quality, the union says that not only has PATH attempted to take away employee’s vacation days during the height of the pandemic, but that the new healthcare plan on offer will cost the members who are mostly pump, station, structural and track maintainers thousands per year.
“Our members have sat by patiently through years of contract delays because of PATH. Now that PATH is finally willing to even offer a contract, they have a ‘take it or else attitude,’” TWU Local 2001 President Patrick Howard said. “Normally I would say ‘take it or leave it,’ but they are now threatening my members with punitive action if they don’t sign their pre-negotiated contract that they had with the Port Authority. Well, my members don’t work for the Port Authority; they are railroad workers and deserve to have the opportunity to actually negotiate their own contract. PATH is looking to force my members into an inferior healthcare plan that could potentially cost these workers thousands of dollars a year. This is not acceptable to the rank and file, and PATH is well aware that they need to come off their position if we can try to come to terms.”
TWU Local 2001 Vice President Kevin Campopiano said that over the course of the past nine years, their members have battled some of the worst nature has had on offer for them, from major snowstorms to Superstorm Sandy. All this has been weathered without a contract, Campopiano claims
But the pandemic would prove to be another hurdle, Campopiano claims.
“During the current pandemic, PATH instituted a more restrictive quarantine policy with a retroactive date that looked to take back compensation from members for previous paid time off by attempting to take away vacation days,” Campopiano said. “PATH later reversed the retroactive date after an outcry by the various unions. Since July 1, they also instituted a more restrictive sick policy, forcing members to jump through more hoops to use their contracted sick leave.”
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not respond to a request for comment from amNewYork Metro; this story will be updated once a response is received.