Strike, Sickout Hit Jersey’s Two Busiest Highways
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ Holiday drivers handed their change to replacement toll takers on New Jersey’s two busiest highways Tuesday as labor unrest kept some workers off the job.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority did not try to collect tolls overnight along its 148-mile highway. But at 6:30 a.m., a patchwork team of administrators, temporary and part-time workers and freshly hired replacements took over toll booths, spokesman Jim Robinson said.
On the Garden State Parkway, most workers staged a sickout and replacements were on the job, said Dennis Ingoglia, spokesman for the New Jersey Highway Authority.
The 710 parkway workers’ contract expired Saturday. Negotiations broke down Monday and no more talks were scheduled.
Public employees in New Jersey are prohibited by law from striking. A judge on Monday ordered the 800 striking turnpike toll collectors and 700 maintenance workers back to work, but the authority locked them out.
The turnpike workers, represented by Local 194 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, say the authority won’t offer a raise and wants to hike their cut of benefits costs.
Turnpike toll collectors’ pay ranges from $13.50 to $20 an hour. Their contract expired at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The authority says the sticking point is its desire to cut overtime by using temporary employees more often. Mediation broke off Monday evening and no talks were scheduled.
Parkway workers are unhappy with an offer of no raises for the first 15 months of a three-year pact, a lump-sum bonus of $500 in the 16th month and a 1.5 percent raise in the third year, said Michael Pearce, recording secretary of Local 196. They earn $9.47 to $19.11 an hour.