|Local 72 members, in solidarity.|
One hundred Teamster brothers and sisters from Local 72 will be laid off from their jobs on the New York State Thruway at close of business on Wednesday, April 3.
Marty Latko, the local's president, wrote an impassioned letter about this injustice. We thought we'd share it with you:
Sisters and Brothers:
"These are the times that try men's souls."
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), American revolutionary
Organized labor finds itself in a time of crisis. Employers want layoffs and givebacks, with nothing given in return. Since when did this become the trade-off for lifetimes of dedicated service?
The Thruway Authority, under the control of its political manipulators, has been transitioning what was once a totally self-sufficient, user-funded superhighway efficiently staffed by loyal, hardworking New Yorkers, into just another financial burden on the backs of the taxpayers of New York.
The Canal System was forced on the Thruway Authority in the early 1990's by a governor playing the shell game with State finances. That move has been costing the Thruway somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million annually ever since.
Despite the Thruway charging significantly less than many other toll roads, the political manipulators have repeatedly rejected reasonable and sensible toll increases, and have even eliminated tolls, all for political gain.
There have always been the political appointees. We don't have to agree with that, but we get it. However, do you actually keep around high-priced political hacks while you lay off necessary, skilled employees that actually play a daily role in the maintenance, safety and operation of the Thruway?
Now, the Thruway Authority wants to offset the results of all of those political games. How? For one thing, the State has decided to contribute $85 million to the Authority. All of the taxpayers of New York, whether or not they utilize the Thruway, will now be chipping in for the first time. You can bet that this is just the beginning of taxpayer subsidy for what should have remained a purely user funded operation.
But the most devastating effects of the attempt to offset those political games are going to be felt by the individual loyal, hardworking employees who have been targeted for layoff. The impact on them, and their families, cannot be measured.
The Thruway Authority claims that layoffs can be averted by giving in to demands that employees contribute 16% toward individual health care coverage and 31% to family coverage. That equates to hundreds of dollars less in each employee's monthly pay. None of us can afford that. If layoffs can be averted, then that must mean that the Authority needs each employee targeted for layoff, because, as everyone knows, employers don't keep unnecessary people on the payroll (with the exception of those political appointees, of course). No doubt, then, that the loss of anyone of those targeted employees is going to result in compromised service and safety for the motoring public.
Nobody has to use the Thruway unless they want to. There are plenty of alternate routes. But since the 1950's, motorists have been drawn to the Thruway because it has been well-maintained, safe and user friendly. Each of our members is part of that long. history of service to the motoring public by loyal, dedicated workers. Many sacrifices have been made by our members in return for the benefits that they have earned. A politically manipulated Thruway Authority that uses the threat of layoffs to attempt to divide us will not be tolerated.
Martin A. Latko
President, Teamsters Local 72