Report: PennDOT using license database to recruit workers

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently used its commercial driver’s license records for the first time to solicit applications for seasonal job vacancies, according to the Associated Press. A state lawmaker wants officials to end the practice, saying it gives the state an unfair recruitment advantage over private employers.

The department mailed recruitment fliers in July to 100,000 drivers who were selected randomly from a database of more than 421,000 commercial driver’s license holders, spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick told the AP on Thursday, Aug. 16. The fliers were mailed in five metropolitan regions of the state.

PennDOT is trying to fill roughly 500 openings in the areas where the fliers were mailed, primarily for snowplow operators, and state law allows the government to use information in its driver database, Kirkpatrick told the AP. Although the openings are for part-time and on-call positions, they can lead to permanent jobs.

“We’ve just had an ongoing challenge filling these very critical winter service positions,” he told the news agency. “Our pay scales tend to be below what private industry can pay.” Kirkpatrick did not know how many people applied or were hired, but said the department was pleased with the response rate. He said the department has not yet decided whether it will tap into the driver database in the future.

Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-York, told the AP he sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler urging him to halt the practice. Gillespie, who received a complaint from the York County Chamber of Commerce, told the AP that the state could decide to limit its recruitment to drivers with certain experience levels or spotless records if it wanted. He also said private businesses do not have access to the same pool of prospective applicants.

“It may not be illegal, but I think that morally and ethically it’s not proper,” Gillespie told the news agency. Gillespie told the AP he has not received a formal response from Biehler, but is also considering introducing a bill to outlaw the practice.

Mary Shanaman, president of Commonwealth Supply Co., a distributor of welding supplies and equipment based in Manchester Township, told the AP she asked the chamber to look into the matter after a few of her drivers brought the fliers in to work. “Everyone who’s in the trucking business understands there is a real shortage of drivers,” Shanaman told the news agency. “But they were targeting people who were working for somebody else. I didn’t take kindly to the state using that method.”