Turnpike workers are voting on the proposed contract through Sept. 6.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The union representing 900 Ohio Turnpike workers has reached a tentative agreement with the turnpike commission.
Members of Teamsters Local 436 are voting through Sept. 6 on a tentative three-year deal with the commission, said Rick Kepler, Local 436 organizer.
Even if the union, which includes 300 employees in the Mahoning Valley, rejects the tentative deal, the workers would not immediately walk off the job, Kepler said.
If the agreement is rejected by union membership, the two sides would attempt to work out their differences with a fact finder, who would issue a report with nonbinding recommendations, Kepler said.
If the union were to reject the fact finder's report, which would take a three-fifths vote by its members, it would then strike, Kepler said. It would be about two months before a strike could take place, he said.
The union and turnpike commission are not releasing details of the tentative contract until after the Sept. 6 vote.
The workers switched unions in March and have been working without a contract since then. The workers gave their union authorization to call a strike last month if no deal was made.
There has never been a strike by turnpike employees.
The union was looking for $1-an-hour salary increases in each year of a three-year deal.
The average full-time toll worker earns $18 an hour. The average full-time turnpike maintenance worker receives $17.50 an hour. Part-time toll workers make $13 an hour on average. There are no part-time maintenance workers at the commission.
Turnpike officials, who are optimistic a contract can be worked out with the union, say the 241-mile turnpike will remain open even if employees strike.