With a strike in mind, turnpike commissioners voted last week to authorize executive director Gary Suhadolnik to hire temporary security services or replacement workers. The commission also voted to simplify toll collection with fixed-rate tolls, much as the Pennsylvania Turnpike did in a week-long strike there last month.
Pennsylvania toll takers struck Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. That day was declared toll-free by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which set flat rate tolls that were collected by management personnel for the duration of the strike.
The Ohio Turnpike commission approved flat rates to be applied in the event of a strike there. Tractor trailers would pay a flat $10 compared to the current $42.45 toll to cross the state from Pennsylvania to Indiana. Straight trucks would pay a flat $5.
Ohio Turnpike tolls are set to decline for trucks in February in an effort to lure trucks from non-toll alternate routes. The highest tractor-trailer toll will drop from $42.45 to $31.
Issues in the negotiations include wages, health benefits, and procedures for job scheduling, bidding, assignments, and layoffs. The commission said in a statement that controlling health-care costs and scheduling flexibility are among its top concerns.
A fact-finder is expected to make recommendations on or about Jan. 5.
Local 436 represents 997 full-time and part-time employees.
Tiboni told the Toledo Blade he was not surprised by the turnpike commission's actions.
"They're following Pennsylvania's lead," he told the paper.
The Ohio Turnpike is one of the nation’s busiest truck routes.