BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Paul Hartel had been working as a toll operator for more than 20 years before losing his job to cashless tolls earlier this month.
"You went from being essential to not being essential anymore," Hartel said.
The cashless tolling system has been in the works since 2018. According to the State Thruway Authority, they then set up career development and training opportunities for those who would be losing their jobs. That included tuition assistance, CDL certification and Civil Service Exams for placement in other positions within the Thruway and the state. The state gave three-years notice with one huge exception to their offerings, there was no guarantee for a job. This forced Hartel to file for unemployment.
"There's just not a lot to apply for," Hartel said.
According to Hartel, the thruway employee union has 346 part-time employees, 64 full-time employees and 15 managers all in the same position. Hartel is hoping the state can step in to help with other employment, something he is not too confident in.
"Any help at all would be great but I feel we're the last thing they are thinking about right now" Hartel said.