Kathy Liebler

Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations

C  O  M  M  I  S  S  I  O  N       N  E  W  S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E

Media Contacts:

Bill Capone, 717-939-9551, ext. 3040 (mobile: 717-645-2247)

November 24, 2004


For Immediate Release

Turnpike Union Workers Implement Statewide Walkout

No tolls will be collected on Pa. Turnpike on Wednesday.

A flat toll will be charged beginning 12:01 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

HARRISBURG, PA. (NOV. 24, 2004) - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced that a statewide work stoppage was initiated by the Teamsters Union employees this morning at 4 a.m. Approximately 2,000 unionized Pa. Turnpike toll collectors, maintenance workers and other personnel have walked off the job. These employees, represented by Teamsters Locals 77 and 250, have been working under a contract that expired Sept. 30, 2003.

"Even though we were not officially made aware of their intent to strike today, we were fully prepared to deal with it," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "Our main objective right now is to keep the highway open on the busiest travel day of the year, so we will not be collecting tolls today; all trips on the Turnpike will be free of charge."

Brimmeier said the Turnpike will continue to waive all tolls, including E-ZPass, until midnight tonight. Then, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 25, the Turnpike will begin charging a flat toll. The temporary flat toll will be $2 for passenger vehicles and $15 for commercial vehicles - regardless of distance traveled. No toll tickets will be issued at entry. All E-ZPass customers will pay a MAXIMUM toll of $2 for passenger vehicles and $15 for commercial vehicles. That is, if the standard toll is LESS THAN the temporary flat toll, E-ZPass customers will pay the standard toll. Commercial credit cards will not be accepted.

Brimmeier also took exception to a statement issued this morning by the Teamsters which implied that the Commission has been unwilling to negotiate. "Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin has been having ongoing dialogue with senior Teamsters officials," Brimmeier said. "In fact, their latest discussions ended last night after 10 p.m."

Brimmeier added that the Turnpike's final offer is a "fair and generous" proposal. It includes:

  • Annual pay increases of 40 cents per hour over the next three years, resulting in an average rate of $21 per hour after three years;
  • A fully paid indemnity healthcare package from Highmark, with dental, vision and a generous prescription plan that carries a $6 co-pay per prescription;
  • A guaranteed no-layoff clause for 3 years;
  • 15 paid holidays and four weeks of paid vacation, on average.

"This is a more-than generous offer; in fact, if we offered anything more, it would be financially irresponsible on our part," Brimmeier said. "We urge the union leadership to put this proposal out to the rank-and-file member for a vote."

Today, though, the Commission is asking motorists to proceed with caution through the tollbooths. "We've seen too many instances of people speeding through the interchanges, and we are warning everyone to slow down to 5 miles per hour as they drive through the toll plaza area," said Brimmeier. "There will likely be vehicles stopped in the entry and exit lanes waiting for a toll ticket or a collector, and we want to avoid accidents and backups if at all possible."

Brimmeier said that there will be a State Trooper stationed at every Turnpike Interchange, as well as Turnpike managers and supervisors on hand at the interchanges to wave people through and keep traffic moving smoothly.

All tolls on Turnpike expansion roads in southwestern Pennsylvania, including the Mon-Fayette Expressway (Turnpike 43) the Beaver Valley Expressway (Turnpike 60) and the Greensburg Bypass (Turnpike 66) will also be waived today. In addition, there will be NO tolls collected at these facilities, even when the flat toll is implemented on Turnpike mainline tomorrow.

"We are asking our customers to please be patient and understanding as we struggle to resolve this impasse," said Brimmeier. "Until then, we'll do all we can to keep traffic moving smoothly."

Turnpike travelers can tune into Highway Advisory Radio 1640AM for updates as they approach the Turnpike's interchanges.



 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649