Tartaglione Joins Sabatina and Democratic Colleagues in Calls for Suspension of Turnpike Layoffs
Letter signed by 17 Senators Calls for Immediate Hearings
Harrisburg, June 5, 2020 − Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) implored Governor Wolf to suspend the termination of 700 Pennsylvania employees until public hearings can be held on the clandestine decision by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC).
“It is absurd that we would send 700 more Pennsylvanians to the unemployment line during this crisis,” Sabatina said, who serves as the Democratic Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “We agreed these loyal state employees would be retained until the end of 2021, when the Turnpike would go cashless.”
Sabatina wasn’t alone in his dismay. Senator Tartaglione, Democratic Chair of the Labor Committee, also questioned the decision.
“This sudden decision to terminate 700 hardworking Turnpike employees violates the agreement we had in place and comes at a time when the Commonwealth should be doing everything it can to curtail the loss of jobs,” said Senator Tartaglione, the Democratic Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “We must insist that all stakeholders have their say in a public forum as part of any decision-making process of this magnitude.”
In all, 17 Senators are calling for the hearings before the June 18th termination date. The letter was sent to Governor Wolf on Friday.
You can read Senator Sabatina’s letter here:
The Honorable Governor Tom Wolf
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
June 5, 2020
Re: Suspend Elimination of Toll Collector Positions
Dear Governor Wolf:
We are deeply disturbed at the stealthy manner in which the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted to eliminate over 700 toll collector jobs this week.
Prior to Tuesday June 2nd, all parties understood that under the original agreement, the PTC promised to employ these Pennsylvanians until the exits went completely cashless at the end of 2021. During this timeframe, the remaining toll collectors would be able to apply for existing positions within the Commission, help get placed in appropriate Commonwealth vacancies, or receive a tuition credit to help receive new job training. To our knowledge, none of the above terms of the agreement have been met.
Also prior to June 2nd, we believed that we had an open and transparent relationship with the PTC. On May 12, 2020, during a Senate Transportation Committee Hearing regarding Turnpike finances, the opportunity presented itself for the PTC to discuss potential layoffs. Despite questions raised by Senate members on the future of the toll workers, no meaningful discussion on this topic was advanced by any member of the PTC.
We, therefore, believe that it is necessary to conduct an informational hearing to determine the fundamental reasons behind the PTC’s failure to abide by the original agreement regarding termination as well as its failure to notify, inform and discuss this matter with the Legislature. We understand the financial difficulties placed upon the Turnpike, however, it is blatantly unconscionable to mislead employees into thinking that their jobs were somewhat secure for the next year and a half, while knowing that these loyal employees really had less than a month to find another job in the midst of a pandemic.
These people have families that depend on them to provide necessities during this extremely difficult time and adding 700 Pennsylvanians to the unemployment rolls will not benefit the Commonwealth.
We respectfully request that this decision to layoff 700 toll collectors on June 18, 2021 be suspended until it can be established with certainty through an informational hearing that there is not some reasonable alternative that allows the PTC to keep its original promise to its faithful employees.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter and we await your prompt response.
Senator John P. Sabatina, Jr. Chairman, Transportation Committee
Senator Jay Costa 43rd Senatorial District
Senator Anthony Williams 8th Senatorial District
Senator Tina Tartaglione 2nd Senatorial District
Senator John Blake 22nd Senatorial District
Senator Vincent Hughes 7th Senatorial District
Senator Judy Schwank 11th Senatorial District
Senator Lisa Boscola 18th Senatorial District
Senator James Brewster 45th Senatorial District
Senator Wayne Fontana 42nd Senatorial District
Senator Timothy Kearney 26th Senatorial District
Senator Andrew Dinniman 19th Senatorial District
Senator Lindsey Williams 38th Senatorial District
Senator Maria Collett 12th Senatorial District
Senator Pam Iovino 37th Senatorial District
Senator Katie Muth 44th Senatorial District
Senator Larry Farnese 1st Senatorial District