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Threat of county road crew strike melts away

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

Allegheny County snowplow and salt truck drivers will not go on strike today because the labor union representing drivers reached a tentative agreement with county officials on Tuesday, according to Joseph Rossi Jr., union president.

About 50 truck drivers threatened to strike earlier this week and rejected a contract offer from the county. The two sides, at odds over pay raises, met in an emergency negotiation session Tuesday.

The drivers are responsible for plowing and salting about 640 miles of county roads.

A winter storm was predicted to hit Western Pennsylvania on Tuesday night and dump ice and roughly 1 to 6 inches of snow on parts the region until Wednesday morning.

Local governments react

Officials from three municipalities who were interviewed before the late afternoon settlement announcement reported to be in three different situations.

Frazer's Lori Ziencik said having to plow and salt the three county roads in her township would have crippled the township's salt supply. The three county roads in Frazer are Crawford Run Road, Bailies Run Road, and Bakerstown Road.

“We're already way past our estimated salt purchases,” said Ziencik, is supervisors chairwoman and township's secretary/treasurer. “Those three roads would double the amount of roadway that we take care of.

“I don't know if we have the supply, or the capacity (to take on the extra roads).”

Ziencik said the county never contacted Frazer to tell them that the county's union road crew might strike. Steve Johnson, the county's public works manager, claimed Monday that all roads would be cared for if there was a strike. A reporter's call to Johnson on Tuesday was directed to county spokeswoman Amie Downs.

Downs did not return a message left for her.

The county hadn't contacted Harrison either, according to Commissioners President Bill Poston.

“If there's any kind of emergency situation, we'll plow,” Poston said of the three county roads in Harrison. “If the county's not going to do it, we have sufficient salt. We'll do the best we can.”

In Fox Chapel, two of the borough's largest arteries, Fox Chapel Road and Delafield Road, are county roads.

But Borough Manager Gary Koehler said borough workers already plow those roads under a longstanding contract with the county.

Koehler said, “(A strike) makes no difference to us.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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