The MTA, Port Authority, and other government agencies are getting involved in a labor dispute at a private company, Xerox, that runs an E-Z Pass call center.
Xerox has been resisting efforts by 300 workers in Staten Island to form a union, but the agencies have been reluctant to take sides until now. Xerox has refused to recognize a labor union that the employees voted for last May.
The head of the New York State Thruway Authority, Michael Fleischer, says Xerox is contractually obligated to tell the government agencies about the labor dispute.
“Their level of transparency to us has not been sufficient,” Fleischer said in a state Senate hearing.
After listening to five current and former workers complain about the call center, Fleischer said the labor dispute had reached the point where it could affect the service that E-Z Pass customers receive.
One of those workers, Patti Russo, says Xerox only lets workers take bathroom breaks during their lunch or coffee breaks.
“That leaves approximately 7 and a half hours where if you have no time left you can't go to the bathroom, you can’t go to the bathroom in those 7 and a half hours,” Russo says.
Russo is one of 300 customer service representatives who answers phones or e-mails.
The state Senate committee that held the hearing oversees the MTA and the New York State Thruway Authority, which use the E-Z Pass system to collect tolls on their roads, bridges and tunnels.
No representative from Xerox appeared at the hearing. A company executive said in a statement that Xerox just acquired the Staten Island call center in February and will complete a review of labor practices there in July.