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Port Authority to Cut Nonunion Benefits

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted Thursday to cut bonuses and other benefits for its nonunion employees in a move expected to save $41 million over 18 months.

"These changes are painful and will represent pay cuts for many Port Authority employees," Executive Director Patrick Foye told the authority's Board of Commissioners. But Foye said Port Authority staffers still earn more than many other government employees.

A recent audit ordered by the governors of New York and New Jersey criticized the agency's organization and called its management "dysfunctional."

The belt-tightening plan that the audit prompted will require nonunion workers for the first time to contribute to the cost of their health care premiums. More than 2,000 employees would be affected.

Employees at the top of the Port Authority's pay scale will pay 35 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Employees will lose an average of 5.3 vacation days, with some workers losing as many as 17.

The authority is also eliminating six bonus programs that had added tens of thousands of dollars to workers' paychecks. Seniority and retention bonuses had allowed some rank-and-file police officers to earn more than $200,000 a year.

The board also eliminated many of the free PATH train passes that are given to employees and retirees.

Board Chairman David Samson said Port Authority pay had been "allowed to balloon," adding, "Our compensation structure is out of whack - it's unacceptable."

The board also approved creating a new security department within the Port Authority Police Department. Samson said it will improve communication and coordination across the police force.

The Port Authority operates and maintains a network of trade and transportation facilities, including the area's three major airports, six tunnels and bridges, marine terminals and ports, bus terminals and the World Trade Center.

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