Media & Public Relations


Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717-920-7176

Bill Capone
717-939-9551, ext. 3040

May 08, 2009

PA Turnpike Labor Unions Ratify Temporary Elimination of Five Paid Holidays

Cost-cutting action comes with management assurance of no layoffs for one year.

HARRISBURG, PA (05/08/2009; 1237)(readMedia)-- Members of Teamsters Local Union No. 77 and 250 - made up of 1,587 Pennsylvania Turnpike fare-collection, maintenance, construction and administrative employees - voted to approve a cost-cutting measure that eliminates five of 15 paid union holidays for one year; in exchange, members receive a management pledge of no layoffs for 12 months plus five added vacation days. The measure will reduce the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's payroll expenses by as much as $1 million.

Nearly 60 percent of Teamsters members ratified the measure via a recent mail-ballot referendum, and union leaders and Turnpike executives have agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to temporarily amend the collective-bargaining agreement to reflect the holiday and vacation adjustment and insert the no-layoffs clause. The current agreement between the Turnpike and its unions was executed Oct. 1 2007 and expires Sept. 30 2011.

Accordingly, union members who may have formerly received overtime pay will receive straight time only for working on Primary Election Day on May 19. The four other paid holidays being eliminated over the next 12 months are: Flag Day, June 15; Columbus Day, Oct. 12; General Election Day, Nov. 3; and Lincoln's Birthday, Feb. 12, 2010. Under the terms in the MOU, all 15 paid holidays will be reinstated - and vacation leave earnings will be reduced by five days - upon expiration of the MOU.

Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier acknowledged Teamsters Principal Officers Jock Rowe of Local 77 and Gary Pedicone of Local 250 for their collaboration during negotiations leading up to the vote. "I can't thank union leaders and voting members enough for their spirit of teamwork in this time of crisis," said Brimmeier. "They were willing to come to the table and work out a plan that reduces our operating costs while benefitting rank-and-file members by protecting jobs. This achievement exemplifies how labor-and-management relations should be conducted - so everyone wins."

The swap plan was first offered, along with other cost-cutting options, in a Feb. 26 letter to union leaders. After consideration, union leaders determined the swap should be put to members for approval, and the mail-ballot referendum was sent out April 8. The ballots were returned and tallied by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Washington, D.C., late last month.

The measure is an element of a Turnpike cost-cutting program launched last October to eventually trim operating expenses by 10 percent overall. By initiating workforce reductions along with a management pay freeze, the program has thus far led to expense reductions of more than $12 million anticipated for fiscal-year 2008-2009. In all, 70 mostly non-union positions were cut in November and December 2008 via voluntary early retirements, elimination of vacancies and permanent layoffs. The cutbacks are being made to offset a calendar 2008 traffic-volume decline that led to a toll-revenue reduction of $15.4 million (4.3 percent) compared to the previous year. 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.