ST LOUIS (CAP) - Traffic into and out of St. Louis, Mo. was snarled for hours yesterday after the Union of Traffic Cone Arrangers called a strike and pulled its workers off the roadways right in the middle of the overnight work shift.
"The problem is, not only do these guys put the cones down, but they also pick them up," said DOT Regional Director Ed Hassinger. "As a result, it was like we've only had half the highway space for our commuters in the morning."
However, commuters like Bob Tay, who works in Laclede's Landing, said half was being generous. "Are you kidding me? I could have walked across King Bridge faster than I drove it with that left lane all blocked off. You mean no one else can pick up the cones?"
No, said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. He said the agreement with the union stated explicitly that only union workers could even touch the traffic cones. And Slay said trying to find someone willing to cross the picket lines has been impossible.
"We've reached out to traffic cone engineers in Chicago, Kansas City and Springfield, but no one wants to be a scab," said Slay. "So until we can figure this one out, commuters should expect some tough, tough rides ahead."
Slay said the city has posted job listings on various job seeker websites to hire new traffic cone engineers, but even if a dozen qualified candidates come forward today, it will take some time to bring them up to speed.
"You don't just stick a guy in the back of a truck leaning out over the roadway to pick up cones," said Slay. "We'll be in lawsuit city if that guy slips and falls."
One of the sticking points of the latest proposal before negotiators is liberal use of the term "coneheads" to describe traffic cone engineers. Union and city officials are expected to be back at the bargaining table today.
- CAP News Staff