Allegheny County, Teamsters reach tentative contract for road workers

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Let it snow -- Allegheny County salt truck drivers will be on the job.

Teamsters Local Union 249 and the county Public Works Department reached a tentative agreement on a contract Tuesday, according to a statement issued by Teamsters president Joseph Rossi Jr.

The agreement, the details of which were not released Tuesday, means that the truck drivers will not strike, as they had said they would. A ratification vote is scheduled for Saturday.

The tentative agreement averts what appeared to be a collision course between a wintry weather forecast and stalling union negotiations.

The saga started Sunday, when Mr. Rossi said his union members voted to reject the county's proposals for a new contract, due to a disagreement about wage increases, and they planned to strike.

Mr. Rossi repeated his union's strike plans Monday, without giving any details about date or time, when he and about 15 union members gathered beside the Allegheny County Courthouse, some of them holding signs that said "No contract. No salt."

Teamsters Local 249 includes about 60 Allegheny County employees, most of them truck drivers in the Public Works Department. The union, which Mr. Rossi said has been without a contract for about 14 months, has called for one that includes wage increases of 2 percent for 2013 and 2014 and 2.5 percent for 2015 and 2016.

As the Teamsters held their protest Monday, William McKain, the county manager, said the county was preparing contingency plans in the event of a strike to ensure that the county's roads would be salted and plowed.

But he, like Mr. Rossi, also said he hoped a strike would be averted.

It seems it has, and perhaps just in time. A winter storm warning had been issued for Tuesday night and this morning.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs confirmed Tuesday that a tentative labor agreement had been reached.

"Our attention is fully on response to the adverse weather expected this evening and on treating, plowing and salting our 640 lane miles of road," she said in an email.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707. First Published February 4, 2014 4:26 PM

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