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Port Authority Ordered To Restore Toll-Free Perks For Some Retirees

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Holland Tunnel (credit: CBS 2)

Holland Tunnel (credit: CBS 2)

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WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (AP) — An arbitrator has ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to restore toll-free passage on its bridges and tunnels and free airport parking for some retirees.

The benefits were pulled more than a year ago at the behest of Gov. Chris Christie, who was critical of the perks given to nonunion employees.

On Tuesday, an arbitrator restored them for the agency’s retired electrical workers. It’s unclear whether the decision will impact other lawsuits by retirees who also lost the perks.

In its ruling, obtained by The Record, the arbitrator also ordered the agency to reimbursement the retirees for tolls and parking they have personally paid since the perks were nixed. The employees were enjoying free tolls at the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the Outerbridge Crossing, Bayonne, Goethals and George Washington bridges.

The workers’ union filed a grievance when the perks were cut, claiming the Port Authority had violated a collective bargaining agreement.

According to the arbitrator, the last union contract with the Port Authority, which expired in 2006, granted the benefit to retirees for life.

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said the agency will appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

“We believe that these retirees don’t deserve a free ride on the backs of toll payers and we will fight this bad decision,” Coleman told The Record.

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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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