Port Authority only allowing PATH workers 10 paid days off to recover from COVID-19, unions say

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The PATH Labor Coalition, a group of union labor union representing about 1,000 NY-NJ PATH workers, says that a new Port Authority policy is only allowing employees infected with COVID-19 10 paid days off to recover.

Photo via Wikipedia.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The PATH Labor Coalition, a group of labor unions representing approximately 1,000 NY-NJ PATH rail system workers, is calling on the agency to retract a new policy that “punishes” employees who are suffering from the coronavirus.

Until recently, employees who had COVID-19 were able to take the time off needed to recover with full pay.

However, last week management changed that policy and imposed an 80 hour cap, or maximum ten work days, for employees who have tested positive.

As a result, PATH workers who need more time to recover from COVID-19 will now be forced to use their own sick and vacation time to recuperate, and employees who are out of accrued days could see money deducted from future paychecks.

“This is a heartless and dangerous policy decision by the Port Authority that literally punishes these brave and essential workers as they recover from COVID-19,” said PATH Labor Coalition President Joseph Dominiczak.

“Hitting these workers with clawbacks during this crisis is a real slap in the face and all it will do is put everyone at greater risk by denying workers the time they need to recover.”

PATH Management said the new policy is retroactive to April 17th.

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners are scheduled to hold their regular meeting today at 3:00 p.m. No public comment will be allowed at the meeting except for written statements received by 12:00 noon on May 20th, according to the meeting agenda.

“Last week, PATH also became the last transportation agency in the Northeast to finally offer employees adequate testing,” Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen Local 60 General Chair Richard Clark said.

“Now they follow that by punishing workers who can’t recover quickly enough. This policy is a direct threat to the health and safety of PATH riders, employees and the general public because it could make some employees return to work too soon.”

Art Blakey, the Vice-Chair of Local 497, said that nine PATH engineers came down with the disease and took more than two weeks to recover.

All are now being charged for those extra days under the new “clawback” policy. Another worker is losing four vacation days because management failed to act after he told them he was ready to resume working.

“We demand that PATH management immediately rescind this disgraceful new policy and start putting the safety of our workers and families first,” Blakey added.

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