New York State Thruway Authority Announces Layoffs

4:52 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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By Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany

ALBANY -- The state Thruway Authority said Wednesday it plans to lay off 234 employees amid its fiscal woes.

The layoffs come as the Albany-based Thruway Authority seeks to pare costs after it decided last month to drop plans for a 45 percent toll increase on truck traffic on the 570-mile thoroughfare.

"There are ongoing fiscal challenges that we face, and further budget savings are necessary," Thruway spokesman Daniel Weiller said.

The Thruway has 2,968 employees, including at the state Canal Corp. The layoffs would affect both agencies: 192 at the Thruway and 42 at the canal system. The layoffs would impact the authority's operations across the state. Workers were notified late Tuesday.

The Thruway's finances have been troubled amid a decline in traffic and needed repairs to the roadway, which runs from the Hudson Valley through western New York.

Business groups derided the proposed toll increase last year, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked with the authority to dump the proposal, which would have generated $85 million in new revenue. The loss of the revenue was offset mainly by taking State Police designated for Thruway off the authority's books.

The layoffs-which would have follow civil-service laws and union regulations on seniority-would save the authority about $20 million, Weiller said. He said the agency has eliminated 361 positions since 2011, mainly through attrition.

Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, ripped the layoffs. The union represents most of the impacted workers.

"Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to understand that threatening layoffs, putting dedicated workers out on the street and undermining the state Thruway and canal operations is a lousy way to promote a jobs agenda," Donohue said in a statement.

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