NJ troopers upset they have to pay their own tolls
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TRENTON — State Troopers driving between home and work have to pay their own tolls just like other Garden State commuters, judges said Thursday.
A State Police union has been fighting since 2010 to have the state reimburse troopers who travel the toll roads when they’re off duty.
It was a perk that they had long enjoyed thanks to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which also runs the Garden State Parkway, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.
The authorities ended the practice in November 2010, about the time that Gov. Chris Christie asked all transportation agencies to stop giving out free rides to non-police and non-emergency vehicles.
The State Comptroller that year also faulted the Turnpike Authority for wasting $430,000 a year on their own employees, who were allowed to ride toll-free in their personal vehicles.
The Thursday decision by a two-judge appellate panel overturns an arbitrator who had sided with the State Troopers Fraternal Association, even though the issue of tolls was not part of the troopers' collective bargaining agreement.
The arbitrator had held that the toll-free passage was an established "past practice."
The judges, however, called the arbitrator’s decision “illogical.”
“The toll-free arrangement was a ‘past practice’ between the Authorities and the troopers, not between the troopers and the Division (of State Police),” they said, pointing out that “the privilege of toll-free passage did not relate to any agreed-on benefit in the contract.”
The median salary of the State Police force is $84,400.
The union’s attorney, Michael A. Bukosky, of the firm Loccke, Correia & Bukosky, did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.