Governor Chris Christie has long been in favor of privatizing the collection of tolls among New Jersey's key highways (the Garden State, the Turnpike), and as it looks as if this goal is about to come to fruition, as hearings are being held and bids fare being taken. It would save the state anywhere from $35-42 million dollars per year.
The union (the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local No. 194 represents the toll-takers) has gone from defiance:
"From the movie 'Wall Street,' it was said, greed ... is good — and in our business, greed is another word for privatization," said Ray Stever, president of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
...to acceptance of their unfortunate fate:
Franceline Ehret said many toll takers have applied for jobs with the potential bidders in case toll collections are privatized, and she had officially introduced herself to the companies.
What's the difference? Well, the Star-Ledger refuses to divulge how much union toll-takers are paid, only saying Turnpike and Parkway toll collectors are better paid than their counterparts on the George Washington Bridge ($61,000 a year) and Pennsylvania Turnpike ($55,000). Oh - and they add that new hires start at $65K a year.
New Jersey has asked all bidders for the toll-collection contract set a wage of $12 per hour, about half of the $30+ per hour "experienced" toll collectors earn.
Alas, there is little sympathy for the toll-takers - remember, at one point 550 letters were made public detailing complaints about behavior both rude, crude, and perverted by the tollbooth turkeys. Now it looks like many of them will lose jobs, and the ones who retain it will take a 50% cut in pay. Welcome to the world of private employment, I suppose, where most of America lives. There will be little sympathy for a bunch of overpaid, insolent state employees who mistreated residents while forcing tax hikes upon them to maintain their exorbitant salaries.
Is there a lesson in there for the Wisconsin teachers union, and their allies in Madison. Ask Bob Ingle:
There is a lesson in there somewhere about respect and the people you meet on the way down...
A lesson unions nationwide are about to learn the hard way, like a certain state's once-untouchable toll collectors...