Pay raises for workers and an end to delays in rebuilding PATCO commuter railcars are two of the top priorities of the new chairman of the board of the Delaware River Port Authority.
Ryan Boyer, a Philadelphia labor leader who was appointed to the reconstituted DRPA by Gov. Wolf, was elected chairman by the board Wednesday.
Boyer, one of six Wolf appointees to the bistate board, said Wolf wants "government that works for the people."
The support for pay raises could put Wolf, a Democrat, on a collision course with Gov. Christie, a Republican who has opposed any pay hikes. Christie, unlike Wolf, has veto power over DRPA board actions.
Nonunion workers, who make up about half of the DRPA 860 employees, have gone six years without a raise, and the agency's 130 police officers, whose last labor contract expired at the end of 2009, are in a protracted legal fight with the authority over salaries. "I will zealously advocate for appropriate raises," Boyer said Wednesday. "We'll do whatever we need to do."
Boyer is business manager of the Laborers' District Council of Metropolitan Philadelphia and Vicinity, which represents 5,000 workers on major construction projects.
Boyer on Wednesday called for a prompt return of refurbished PATCO commuter railcars from a factory in Hornell, N.Y. The $194 million rebuilding of the 120-car fleet is more than a year behind schedule.
"We need to get those cars back," Boyer said, noting that top officials of the train rebuilder, Alstom Transport Inc., are to meet with DRPA and PATCO officials in Camden on Monday.
Boyer said Wolf wants the DRPA, which operates PATCO and four toll bridges between Philadelphia and South Jersey, to focus on its core mission of moving people and vehicles.
Wolf has no interest in reviving the agency's controversial economic-development spending, Boyer said. The authority has been winding down its economic-development accounts in the last few years, after a decade in which it spent about $500 million on sports stadiums, museums, a hospital, and other projects favored by politicians in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The authority should be "more open and transparent" and concentrate on maintaining "safe and efficient transportation services and assets," Boyer said.
He is the fifth DRPA chairman in the last four years, succeeding Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who served as a stand-in for Wolf after Wolf defeated Gov. Tom Corbett in November's gubernatorial election.
Wolf's other appointees to the 16-member board are:
Elinor Haider of Philadelphia, vice president of market development of Veolia North America, an energy and water company.
Rohan K. Hepkins, mayor of Yeadon and senior pastor of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd there.
Marian Moskowitz of Tredyffrin, a real estate developer and owner of the Franklin Commons office building in Phoenixville, as well as an active Democrat in Chester County politics.
Whitney R. White of Philadelphia, chairman of the Global Institute for Strategic Investment, a Philadelphia nonprofit organization that advocates for international trade.
Antonio Fiol-Silva of Philadelphia, a principal in Wallace Robert & Todd, an urban design, architecture, and development firm.