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Letters to the Editor

PennDOT's gross wages

| Monday, Sept. 6, 2004

Your article about PennDOT paying contract workers $104.33 an hour is a gross oversimplification and wrong by a factor of four ("Workers spot plenty of green on hillside," Aug. 29).

The specialized workers needed for this project receive about $23 an hour in salary. Contrary to your account, the work on the Route 51 stabilization project in Aliquippa entails more than standing around and watching others work.

The so-called "spotters" must scale the rock face to complete the stabilization. The work is dangerous, but needed to ensure the safety of passing motorists.

The rate you cited includes the entire amount collected by the subcontractor to cover all its costs. The bulk of the rate -- 78 percent -- goes for such expenses as the employer's overhead costs, insurance, fringe benefits and employees' travel and housing costs. This subcontractor, one of only a handful available around the nation, is based in Canada.

We work with private industry to secure these kinds of services and in some cases such as this, the specialized work that is needed carries a hefty price tag. But the Trib's account of this contract was misleading.

Karl Ishman
Collier

The writer is District Executive at PennDOT's District 11 office.

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