Allegheny County vows to salt roads even if Teamsters strike

Winter storm watch in effect for today and Wednesday

The combination of a threat of a strike and the promise of snow should not worry residents and commuters in Allegheny County, county manager William McKain said Monday.

Even if truck drivers for the county Public Works Department go on strike, as they have said they will, roads will be salted and plowed, he said.

"We are going to respond and take care of public safety, no matter what," Mr. McKain said.

Pittsburghers battle winter weather ... again

With snow snarling highways and sidewalks, Pittsburghers again found themselves battling the elements. (Video by Nate Guidry; 2/3/2014)

Teamsters protest over stalled contract talks

Teamsters protested Downtown today over what they say is a lack of progress in contract talks with Allegheny County. Officials for the county say roads will be maintained even if the Teamsters strike. (Video by Nate Guidry; 2/3/2014)

Union negotiations and weather formations seemed to be on a collision course as the week got underway.

Joseph Rossi Jr., president of Teamsters Local 249, said his union members voted Sunday to reject the county's proposals for a new contract, and they plan to strike. But Monday afternoon, when Teamsters gathered outside the Allegheny County Courthouse, he was not specific about when that strike would begin.

However, he said, since the job of his union members is salting the roads, he said it is "not going to take a genius to figure out when the ideal time is" for the Teamsters local to go on strike.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for today through Wednesday, citing the possibility of a quarter inch of ice and up to 6 inches of snow.

The Teamsters union includes about 60 Allegheny County employees, most of them truck drivers in the Public Works Department. About 15 of those employees gathered outside the courthouse Monday, calling for a contract that includes wage increases of 2 percent for 2013 and 2014 and 2.5 percent for 2015 and 2016. Mr. Rossi said the union has been without a contract for 14 months.

Dan Fleet was one of the county truck drivers outside the courthouse Monday. He held a sign that said: "No contract. No salt."

As for a strike, Mr. Rossi said, "I hope it doesn't happen." Mr. McKain, the county manager, also said he is hopeful the strike will be averted.

If the workers do strike, he said his message to Allegheny County residents is that roads will still be salted and plowed. He said the county has "significant salt supplies."

As for how the county will complete its road work, Mr. McKain said he is speaking with county attorneys and that "all options will be on the table."

The county maintains a hodge-podge of roads in municipalities throughout the county.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707. First Published February 3, 2014 5:17 AM

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