Update: Tim Murray repeated the lie to the Lowell Sun yesterday.
“There was a pay raise I was eligible for that I didn’t take,” answered Murray. “There have been a hundred people laid off at the turnpike. We’ve cut 1,000 jobs since October when we did the first 9C cut. Our budget for FY10, I think, is another thousand jobs (cut).”
“Reform before Revenue” is not empty rhetoric, and this story illustrates why. The Governor has been going around the state touting the supposed “reforms” he has enacted in the transportation arena. Central to his established reforms is the supposed fact that 100 toll takers have been laid off. He said this again in Natick, while he was less than 10 feet in front of me. I did not mishear.
Well something funny, that can only happen in Massachusetts, has happened. According to the Boston Globe the layoffs have never happened. Not to a single toll collector.
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which pledged in September to begin laying off 100 toll collectors, has yet to fire any workers, even as it gears up for a toll hike later this month to raise money.
Alan LeBovidge, the turnpike’s executive director, called the layoff process time-consuming and “onerous” and told lawmakers yesterday that the agency has left 48 positions unfilled over the past year, after workers retired or took voluntary layoffs. That figure includes many workers who left before the September layoff announcement.
LeBovidge said “true layoffs” from the remaining toll-collecting staff of 424 are the next step, but will take six to 12 months because of collective bargaining rules that give senior employees the right to bump newer hires. Even last year, he said the full layoffs would take 12 to 18 months.
“It could be done a lot faster if they could move more efficiently on doing anything,” said Robert Cullinane, principal officer of Teamsters Union Local 127, which represents toll takers. “But they can’t even move efficiently when they’re trying to get rid of people.”
Wow even the Union guy is blasting the administration for the glacial pace of the layoffs. Now I don’t cherish seeing families getting disrupted. I know there are real people not just numbers here. However, this is typical of the broken government we have in Massachusetts.
With Deval Patrick, I think the operating principle should be “Trust but verify”