The union representing N.J. Turnpike toll collectors filed suit today in federal court against the Turnpike Authority, alleging illegal retaliation against workers challenging the upcoming privatization of toll collection.
Local 194 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) said Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the workers and the Union against the NJ Turnpike Authority alleging violation of First Amendment rights.
The Local stated in a release that if Christie Administration is successful in privatizing toll collections, over 600 turnpike workers will lose their jobs.
The initial Request for Proposal included a provision that current workers would have a “Right of First Refusal” to the privatized jobs, according to the union, but the Turnpike recently removed this provision in retaliation for the union speaking out against privatization and the workers sending applications to bidders for jobs.
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction against the Authority going forward with the privatization of toll collection jobs without the Right of First Refusal.
The Union has been seeking negotiations with the Turnpike Authority to save the jobs from being privatized. “The Christie Administration and the Turnpike Authority would rather destroy the lives of middle-class families than negotiate with unions,” said Fran Ehret, president of Local 194.
According to Ehret, Turnpike management in December sought $12 million to $14 million in concessions. Ehret said that the union offered $16 million in concessions and may be willing to offer more, but that the Local believes the state is intent on privatization and won’t negotiate.