They could have been contenders. Unfortunately, though, the union representing the nearly 300 New Jersey Turnpike toll collectors took an opportunity for preferential hiring on the state's plans to privatize collections and tried to interfere with the process. Now, the Garden State has shown them the exit (so to speak).
With the advent of automated systems like EZ Pass that give motorists the ability to breeze through toll booths and be billed monthly, unionized toll collectors and their often surly, threatening and abusive demeanors [Hey! It's Joisey!] are going the way of the milkman.
As a result of NJ Governor Chris Christie's efforts to trim the New Jersey budget, plans have been made to outsource toll collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and Parkway. This has caused quite a battle in the Garden State, as the union representing the NJ Turnpike toll collectors has tried to convince the state not to open up to private bids.
According to Tollroads News, as the state went out to bid, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 194 sent out a "confidential" letter to its members instructing them to essentially interfere with the bidding process. In so doing, the State added an addendum to the Request for Proposal (RFP) that eliminated the union members' "first right of refusal" to jobs with any new employer.
In the February 8th letter to her members, union president Franceline Ehret instructs her members to "fill out resumes and apply for jobs with ALL of the companies" bidding.
She goes on to state:
This is CRITICAL. Many of these companies WILL NOT want to come here when they see all the UNION MEMBERS who want these jobs. Many of these companies won't want to have to deal with a UNION SHOP or fight over UNIONIZING the workers.
Twenty-four (24) companies came to tour our facilities on Monday February 7th. When they saw our picket line, once company wouldn't cross and said they weren't bidding. It shows we can succeed in backing them off. [Emphasis in original.]
Unfortunately for the union members, by paying a union that chose to fight using methods to make it and its members appear belligerent and foolish, the union has likely cost them the chance of getting jobs with whatever company becomes the new toll collector.
Though it's not likely to happen, perhaps a dues refund is in order?
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
Photo credit: CeeKay's pix