Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo

April 3, 2009

PA Turnpike Management, Union Leaders Agree
to Economic-Relief Measure

Teamsters Union leaders now will put proposal to membership vote


HARRISBURG, PA (04/03/2009; 1050)(readMedia)-- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced today that Teamsters Union leaders and commission executives have agreed to an economic-relief measure that would slash the commission's annual payroll expenses by as much as $1 million. Now, members of Teamsters Local Union No. 77 and 250 - made up of about 1,587 fare-collection employees, maintenance and construction workers and administrative personnel - will be given a chance to vote on the proposal.

The plan involves eliminating five union holidays in exchange for five additional vacation days. The offer to eliminate the holidays was formally presented, along with other cost-cutting options, in a Feb. 26 letter to union leaders. After discussions, union leaders determined the holiday change should be put to members for approval.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Chief Executive Joe Brimmeier recognized Teamsters Principal Officers Jock Rowe of Local 77 and Gary Pedicone of Local 250 for their understanding and flexibility while working with management on a practical alternative.

"We're extremely pleased with the cooperation between both parties throughout this discussion," Brimmeier said. "The holiday adjustment is a vital part of our cost-cutting plan. As we know, everyone has to give up a little during these tough times."

Brimmeier said the Turnpike's senior management and union officials recently agreed to a draft memorandum of understanding outlining the modification, and the next step in the process is approval by rank-and-file members.

"I certainly hope that the membership - who are partners in this endeavor - see fit to support this change which, notably, prevents layoffs in our union bargaining units," Brimmeier added. "We're in this together, and we all have an equal stake in ensuring the long-term viability of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission."

The measure is a new component of the Turnpike's ongoing cost-cutting program, launched last October, to trim operating expenses system wide by as much as 10 percent. By initiating workforce reductions along with a management pay freeze last year, the program has already produced expected operating-expense reductions of more than $12 million for fiscal-year 2008-2009. In all, 70 positions were cut in 2008 through a combination of voluntary early retirements, elimination of vacancies and permanent layoffs.

The budget cutbacks are being made in response to a Turnpike traffic decrease that began in June 2008. Turnpike officials credit the downturn to a reduction in discretionary travel and a drop in the amount of goods shipped via truck over the toll road in the past 10 months.

"Today's economic conditions are impacting businesses worldwide, and we certainly are not immune to that," Brimmeier said. "Tightening our belts in this recession is the right thing to do - especially considering the commission's greatly expanded responsibilities to the commonwealth under Act 44 of 2007."

If a majority of the union members approve the measure, the change would take effect immediately.