NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made two major announcements on Thursday, one involving employee benefits and another dealing with centralizing security operations.
The authority will create a stand-alone security department and hire a Chief Security Officer to centralize the operations, making sure everyone is talking to everyone.
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“Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark have different camera systems, they have different people operating security systems,” said Paul Nunziato, the head of the Port Authority’s PBA.
The move comes after an extensive review by former Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff, who found the PA’s structure to be highly decentralized and lacking clear sense of mission and operational control.
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“Our creation of a centralized Security Department, overseeing the Port Authority’s policing and our other security resources, will enhance our billions of dollars of investment in security infrastructure, improve security communications and responsiveness, and add to our security efforts,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson.
The Port Authority also announced it will cut bonuses and other benefits for its nonunion employees.
The agency’s Board of Commissioners approved the cuts in a unanimous vote Thursday. The move is expected to save $41 million over 18 months.
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The plan will require nonunion workers for the first time to contribute to the cost of their health care premiums. More than 2,000 nonunion employees would be affected.
“In making these changes the Port Authority is fulfilling its responsibilities to be accountable to the public we serve,” Executive Director Patrick Foye said, adding that employees will also see sick and vacation payouts slashed, lose seniority bonuses and perks, such as free PATH cards.
He said the changes are painful and will represent pay cuts for many Port Authority employees. But Foye said the authority’s staffers still earn more than many other government employees.
Under the plan, nonunion workers will be unable to cash in unused vacation time as a means of increasing their pension payouts.
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