Pink slips went out at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority on Thursday as the state agency continued to downsize as part of the Wolf administration's effort to cut costs and streamline government.
Last month, 23 PRPA employees took voluntary buyouts. Workers were told if they didn't take the buyout, there was a chance they would be laid off in January.
The PRPA owns piers and terminals, including Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia and Tioga Marine Terminal in Port Richmond, on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.
On Thursday, the authority's chief executive officer, Jeff Theobald, held meetings at which employees learned their fate.
Among those laid off were John F. Dempsey, deputy executive director; Joseph P. Menta, communications director; Donald Brennan, director of governmental and public affairs; and Nicholas Walsh, director of strategic planning.
Four full-time and one part-time employee were laid off, Theobald said in an email. "The staffing level will be at 52. This completes the restructuring," he said.
On Dec. 21, after a news conference to celebrate a $300 million capital investment in the Philadelphia port announced by Gov. Wolf, port officials said the PRPA was being reorganized and a voluntary separation program had been offered to all staff. Twenty-three people took it.
Gerard "Jerry" Sweeney, the port authority board chairman, said staffing and skill sets in the port need to be competitive and the voluntary separation agreements were "the first step in what we view as an overall restructuring."
Theobald, former president and CEO of Ports America Outer Harbor in Oakland, Calif., was hired in July as the new chief executive officer, earning $290,000 a year. He replaced James T. McDermott Jr., who retired in April.
"Today, the people who did not take the buyout, the remaining employees, many of us were called in to Mr. Theobald's office at 20-minute intervals and were told that we are not needed anymore," said Menta, reached at his office clearing out his desk. Some employee meetings on Thursday were about reassignments, and not layoffs.
Menta said his meeting was cordial and Theobald was "as nice as a person could be in this situation. He said, 'We're downsizing. We're going to become a smaller, crisper organization.' "