Audit all operations at Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority’s recent decision to lay off 234 workers in order to save some $20 million (Jan. 30 News) represents an opportune moment for the authority to embrace our repeated calls for a thorough, independent audit of its operations.

Last summer, after the Thruway Authority announced that it was considering a 45 percent truck toll increase, my organization sent a letter to Chairman Howard Milstein insisting that the authority submit to an independent audit. We believe that a thorough review of the authority’s operations and finances will show that reforms are needed, and savings can be achieved.

For example, the authority would be able to save millions of dollars each year if it stopped using project labor agreements for its construction projects. PLAs increase the bid cost of construction projects – in some cases by 20 percent when compared to non-PLA projects. PLAs benefit only a small portion of the construction community, as an estimated 70 percent of construction workers in New York State are not union members.

If the authority ends its practice of using PLAs, more companies would be able to submit bids. More competition for this work, we believe, will result in tremendous savings to the Thruway Authority. Ultimately, this will help keep tolls down for Thruway drivers.

It is beyond dispute that the authority’s finances have been mismanaged for decades. We urge the current leadership to finally put an end to this history of fiscal irresponsibility and take immediate action to get its fiscal house in order.

If CSEA President Danny Donohue is committed to saving the jobs of his members, he should join us in supporting these cost-saving measures. Recent history has shown that when enough voices speak out against the authority, good things can happen.

Brian Sampson

Executive Director

Unshackle Upstate