The headline on the news story “Port Authority of Allegheny County transit drivers on road to riches” was inflammatory and misleading, reflecting an anti-worker bias. The story lists, by name and total pay, three drivers whose 2013 earnings were in six figures, inviting censure of these workers.
Base pay for bus operators is $54,579, which is in the range of median household income in the U.S. When some drivers' annual income is considerably above that, it is because the Port Authority needed them to work overtime, and they did. With 50 driver vacancies due to inadequate state funding, the only way to meet the schedule was with overtime.
If all drivers had refused to work overtime, how many riders would have been left stranded, unable to get to work, school or medical treatment because their bus did not run? What would have been the Trib's headline then? Probably something like “Lazy bus drivers cripple transit system.”
Pittsburghers for Public Transit agrees with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 that bus-driver vacancies should be filled to eliminate understaffing. We also believe a strong transit system requires workers who are fairly compensated for their hard work and who have a voice in improving the system.
The writer is a member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit and managing editor of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America's UE News.
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