Port Authority to rescind ‘clawback’ policy that limited paid COVID-19 recovery time, union says

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The Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey will rescind a “clawback” policy that limited paid COVID-19 recovery time for PATH works, union leaders said yesterday.

Twitter photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The PATH Labor Coalition, which represents about 1,000 rail workers, says the PANYNJ has agreed to union demands to abolish a controversial new policy that penalized employees sickened by the coronavirus.

“This retreat by the Port Authority means that PATH workers will no longer face lost wages when recovering from COVID-19, and that’s a major win for workers, riders and public safety in both New Jersey and New York,” said PATH Labor Coalition President Joseph Dominiczak.

“Just like when the Port Authority refused to provide free COVID-19 testing to workers before reversing course, it’s clear that management will not treat our members fairly without outside scrutiny and attention on their misdeeds, and our coalition will continue doing whatever we can to hold them accountable.”

Two weeks ago PATH management implemented a new policy forcing COVID-19 positive workers to return to work within 10 days.

Any employee who needed more time to recover would be forced to go without pay if they didn’t have any remaining sick or vacation days. Previously, workers could take all the time necessary to recover without any financial penalty.

To make matters worse, PATH managers also made the policy retroactive to April 17th with no prior notice to workers.

“This outrageous retribution policy was designed to punish us for forcefully demanding that the Port Authority provide our members with adequate coronavirus testing, which every transit system in the Northeast was already doing,” noted ATDA Chair Ronnie Anderson.

“They finally gave in on testing, but then they hit us with this cheap shot as punishment for embarrassing them.”

RITU Supervisors General Chair Dan Lacey added that the Port Authority has agreed to give any employee sickened by the disease twenty working days to recover without using any personal sick or vacation time.

Workers who need more than that will be evaluated on a case by case basis, Lacey said.

“This was a rotten, dirty thing to do to the workers who keep PATH trains running and a major health threat to riders and the general public,” exclaimed Tom Malone, of SMART Local 1413 Tower Operators.

“Workers who came back too soon could have spread the disease throughout New York and New Jersey. It was an asinine attempt to punish us for standing up for what’s right.”

IBEW Local Chair David Ortiz also weighed in, noting that the PATH Labor Coalition will keep fighting to protect workers from abusive management practices.

“We are completely united in our determination to protect our families and the public from any future bizarre policies like this. We should all be working together to beat this disease. It’s just common sense.”