HARRISBURG, PA — The officers of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO made the following statements in response to the job elimination at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission:
“[This week] the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced the layoff of 500 turnpike toll collectors and the permanent creation of a cashless Turnpike system. Currently laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of their permanent unemployment is an extraordinary blow. To do such a thing at a time of record unemployment makes a bad situation worse,” stated President Rick Bloomingdale.
“Any employer who eliminates jobs at a critical time in the recovery of our Commonwealth ensures even more long-term economic hardship. Instead of laying off 500 workers to embrace automation, we should engage public stakeholders to preserve jobs. This premature and backward decision ignores the economic devastation of hundreds of workers.
“What is the plan for the placement of these 500 workers? What training will be provided to these Pennsylvanians who have worked hard and played by the rules, only to be thrown out of work by the Turnpike Commission, which seems to care more about the bottom line than the people who serve the turnpike customers?” questioned President Bloomingdale.
“‘ We have known for years, turnpike toll collectors’ jobs would terminate in the fall of 2021, but just may have come to an end now.’ As I wrote in an editorial at the beginning of this pandemic, I am disappointed that my prediction has come to fruition. We must be aware more than ever that this trend will continue, but we at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will not let it go unchecked,” stated Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.
“I myself, worked in the manufacturing sector and witnessed firsthand the desolation automation had on our industry. While automation will never cease, we cannot allow this pandemic to exacerbate the inevitable, especially under the convenient auspice of public health. This is not the new normal,” Snyder concluded.
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