Published: Feb. 07, 2024, 5:50 a.m.

By Paul Liotta |

E-ZPass office, 1150 South Ave, is closed today, people are showing up and leaving. Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Staten Island Advance/Rebeka Humbrecht)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island’s delegation of elected officials and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are working to ensure that 300 employees who previously staffed a local E-ZPass office are rehired by a new contractor.

The office of Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore) shared correspondence between the elected officials and the Port Authority laying out their efforts to ensure workers at the South Avenue E-ZPass office do not end up unemployed.

“We sent a letter joined by all our Island elected officials to support all E-ZPass customer service employees, a 1/3 of whom are Islanders,” Hanks said. “During these tumultuous times of unfair toll increases and congestion pricing looming, the Port Authority and MTA need the best people guiding drivers through their options, the Port Authority agreed and we expect the MTA to as well.”

In 2021, the Port Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and the New York State Thruway Authority approved a host of new contracts for E-ZPass operations in New York, ending the program’s relationship with Conduent, the contractor that employed people at the South Avenue location.

Rick Cotton, executive director for the Port Authority, wrote to the Staten Island delegation Jan. 30 highlighting why and how the agency is working to ensure Conduent employees have opportunities with the new E-ZPass contractor, TTEC.

“The current Conduent staff have many years of experience and training in customer support for tolling and should be a critical part of TTEC meeting its objectives for staffing,” he wrote. “At our direction, TTEC has been working closely with Conduent to effectuate education for current employees on TTEC as an employer, the positions available, and the benefits offered to employees.”

Cotton’s letter came in response to correspondence to him and MTA Chair Janno Lieber from Staten Island’s delegation of elected officials — Hanks, Borough President Vito Fossella, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/South Brooklyn), State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore), State Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-North Shore/South Brooklyn), Assemblyman Charles Fall (D-North Shore/Brooklyn/Lower Manhattan), Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore), Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R-East Shore/South Brooklyn), Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo (R-Mid-Island), Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore), and Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island/South Brooklyn).

Their letter made the case for the approximately 300 employees, many of whom are Staten Islanders, that worked at the South Avenue E-ZPass center, some of whom had worked there for over 30 years.

“We propose that retaining all knowledgeable staff would not only benefit TTEC’s efficiency, but also result in cost savings on training new personnel,” the group of elected officials wrote. “Given the substantial contribution of Staten Islanders to your revenue, it is crucial to ensure that E-ZPass users receive reliable assistance. We request your support to encourage TTEC to retain all of the best-trained and knowledgeable employees, fostering excellent customer service.”

TTEC’s new E-ZPass operation will open two new service centers in Rochester and Malta, but most of the company’s 700 new jobs will be remote work, according to Cotton’s letter, adding that a second employer, Transcore, had already made employment offers to 40 Conduent employees for tag distribution services.

As of January 23rd, TTEC had received 203 applications from Conduent employees. As of Jan. 30, 67 employees have accepted offers, and 69 were set to be made, according to Cotton’s letter.

Marjorie Chimes, a spokesperson for TTEC, declined to comment on specifics of the company’s hiring efforts, but laid out some of the company’s efforts to target Conduent employees.

“TTEC shares the goal of the NY tolling agencies to provide best in class services to its tolling customers. To that end, the company is working hard to hire knowledgeable and experienced professionals from the prior service provider,” she said. “To facilitate communication and access to information about the specific TTEC customer service roles, the company has created a special microsite for employees of the prior provider, hosted several onsite information sessions and created a streamlined online applications process.”