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New York - NY Post: Sanitation Department's Slow Snow Clean-up Was a Budget Protest

Published on: December 30, 2010 08:58 AM
By:  NY Post
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Photo Credit: EliNew York - These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts—a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department—and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan—at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

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The snitches “didn’t want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation,” Halloran said. “They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”

New York’s Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process—and pad overtime checks—which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

They said crews normally would have been more aggressive in com bating a fierce, fast-moving bliz zard like the one that barreled in on Sunday and blew out the next morning.

The workers said the work slowdown was the result of growing hostility between the mayor and the workers responsible for clearing the snow.

In the last two years, the agency’s workforce has been slashed by 400 trash haulers and supervisors—down from 6,300—because of the city’s budget crisis. And, effective tomorrow, 100 department supervisors are to be demoted and their salaries slashed as an added cost-saving move.

Sources said budget cuts were also at the heart of poor planning for the blizzard last weekend. The city broke from its usual routine and did not call in a full complement on Saturday for snow preparations in order to save on added overtime that would have had to be paid for them to work on Christmas Day.

The result was an absolute collapse of New York’s once-vaunted systems of clearing the streets and keeping mass transit moving under the weight of 20 inches of snow.

The Sanitation Department last night denied there was a concerted effort to slow snow removal.

“There are no organized or wildcat actions being taken by the sanitation workers or the supervisors,” said spokesman Matthew Lipani.

Joseph Mannion, president of the union that represents agency supervisors, said talk of a slowdown “is hogwash.” But he admitted there is “resentment out there” toward Mayor Bloomberg and his administration because of budget cuts.

His counterpart at the rank-and-file’s union, Harry Nespoli, has also denied there is a job action, though he admitted his guys are working lucrative 14-hour shifts.

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said only: “We would hope this is not the case.”

But multiple Sanitation Department sources told The Post yesterday that angry plow drivers have only been clearing streets assigned to them even if that means they have to drive through snowed-in roads with their plows raised.

And they are keeping their plow blades unusually high, making it necessary for them to have to run extra passes, adding time and extra pay.

One mechanic said some drivers are purposely smashing plows and salt spreaders to further stall the cleanup effort.

“That is a disgrace. I had to walk three miles because the buses can’t move,” said salesman Yuri Vesslin, 38, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg—quickly becoming the public face of failure this week—spent a second consecutive day yesterday defending himself to critics of his administration’s handling of the storm.

He took reporters to The Bronx to explain that the city is coming back to life and to tout his administration’s efforts.

“Can’t work much harder,” Bloomberg said.

But Hizzoner admitted, “We didn’t do as good a job as we want to do or as the city has a right to expect.”

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty promised that every street will have been plowed by 7 this morning, but then he offered this hedge: “Will somebody find a street that I missed? Maybe.”

Bloomberg and Doherty also offered a series of excuses for the failed response to the blizzard. They blamed residents for shoveling snow into streets that had already been plowed and for tying up 911 with non-emergency calls.

“This was a failure in the operations and ultimately, as the mayor tells us very often, the buck stops with him,” said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-SI).



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Read Comments (30)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:15 AM YidishThinking Says:

Sorry You NY POST garbage editors are part of the nyc garbage.

You stick up for your this garbage mayor by pointing fingers on others while it took a few days this arrogant mayor to even recognize the situation.

In the meantime my BP street is like a trademill pulling up to 60 mph and staying on the same place.....

2

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:18 AM Upset Says:

The sanitation department has blood on its hands. They are criminal murders. Even if they escape prosecution from civil authorities they cannot escape the hand of G-d. May those who participated in this act of wholesale murder for money have their names blotted out and have to plow snow forever in Gehenum!

3

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:19 AM Joe-Shmoe Says:

fire the unions! they kill every business with their greed! I just blame bloomberg for not yelling this out loud! we all understand the state of the economy, we all know he had to drastically cut the budget, as painfull as it is. for union bums to take this opportunity and strike in this manner should get them in jail! how many people didn't get medical care they soo direly needed! they are bloody murderers! off with their heads! I hope bloomberg really fights them back! he has the money!

4

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:19 AM YossieR Says:

If this is proven then their pay should be docked & the taxpayers should get refunds. Even though I don't use mass transit, I can't believe that the city didn't delay the price increases. How insensitive!

5

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:22 AM Anonymous Says:

they should all be put in the electric chair!!!!! How many people have died due to the inability for emergency personell to operate!!!!

6

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:25 AM Tzvi_Hersh Says:

If this is true, I hope they realize that they ruined lives and caused some deaths.

7

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:33 AM Anonymous Says:

It's all coming out in the wash now.

8

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:42 AM mewhoze Says:

all these people from the top on down should be held responsible for the deaths during this storm.
the ambulances could not get to the patients in time due to what those people did to all of us!
they should be held accountable!!

9

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:44 AM VeyIzMir Says:

Regardless of the denials, I totally believe that there was a work slowdaown in retaliation for the layoffs. Lose - lose situation.

10

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:49 AM oygevault Says:

Is anyone surprised?

11

 Dec 30, 2010 at 09:57 AM reb yona Says:

we need Ruloldf Guliani to handle this. he would have put them all in place by firing them and call in the national guard to show them that you don't play games like this.

12

 Dec 30, 2010 at 10:04 AM Anonymous Says:

This is the kind of "industrial action" that is common all over Europe. Get used to it since we will see many more such actions in the months ahead as the cities and states try to reduce their budgets by cutting pay and pensions of public workers. These sanitation men work hard and barely earn a living wage in NYC (most earn less than $100 K) so a pay freeze is unfair.

13

 Dec 30, 2010 at 10:18 AM alwaysright Says:

to me mayor bloomberg disconnect to every day people is the problem, he didnt even notice anything wrong, he kept telling us gow tough a job it is and we try hard, he is the boss he should be held responsible

14

 Dec 30, 2010 at 10:31 AM fiftyseven Says:

Reply to #1  
YidishThinking Says:

Sorry You NY POST garbage editors are part of the nyc garbage.

You stick up for your this garbage mayor by pointing fingers on others while it took a few days this arrogant mayor to even recognize the situation.

In the meantime my BP street is like a trademill pulling up to 60 mph and staying on the same place.....

Your making a mistake. the NY POST is not saying bloomberg is unguilty he is! all their saying is that the ONIONS sorry i meant the UNIONS are playing the game

15

 Dec 30, 2010 at 10:47 AM RipRoar Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

This is the kind of "industrial action" that is common all over Europe. Get used to it since we will see many more such actions in the months ahead as the cities and states try to reduce their budgets by cutting pay and pensions of public workers. These sanitation men work hard and barely earn a living wage in NYC (most earn less than $100 K) so a pay freeze is unfair.

REALLY? A pay freeze is unfair? Where's the money coming from - are you planning to pay their salaries out of their own pocket? See since private sector workers have taken pay cuts, lost jobs, and aren't spending as much the city isn't collecting as much tax revenenue. Not saying they don't work hard - at least they did until the snowstorm. But to claim a pay freeze is unfair because it hurts...well, if public sector employment carried the accountablilty as in the private sector and the unions were broken we'd all probably be in much better shape!

16

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:06 AM Yossi Says:

I think the community leaders have to be very careful how they attack this sanitation problem..Lets not forget that those are the same people who do a wonderful job all year round throughout all our communities and lets not forget passover weeks how much the sanitation goes out of their schedule to accomandate the yiddishe communities..The people responsible for this slow down should be kept accountable but please lets not attack our local supervisors and sanitation men....

17

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:16 AM ShatzMatz Says:

It was very obvious that this was a work action. I saw plenty of plows getting themselves stuck in the snow. Yesterday I saw a plow meticulously plowing a small unused stretch of old new utrecht rd between church ave and 14 ave. He spent 2 hours going back and forth over the same street moving every last flake to the side. I think that only 4 cars pass that road a day, since it leads to nowhere.

The irony of it is that it is now 5 days after the storm and the sanitation workers are still getting paid overtime to plow. They are making off like bandits while we paid a heavy price.

I know that a lot of people on this site don't like Bloomberg. But in this case it is important to fight back against the selfish sanitation workers. Bloomberg will not have the strength to fight them if the people are against him. We should stick to Bloomberg on this one issue so that he can take the neccessary action against the unions for this incredible act of treachery.

BTW, Sanitation workers are very well paid, and they have cushy contracts that let them quickly finish their outes in 2 hours and get paid for an 8 hour shift. This is legal stealing. Overtime is another killer

18

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:18 AM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

"stop complaining and start shoveling..."

19

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Surveillance cameras in the area for the last 3 days should be watched. Proof will be there.

20

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:19 AM Will Bloomberg learn anything from Rubashkin? Says:

The Workers Unions in the USA are an out of control, LEGAL Mafia.

You can't win the mafia by street fighting them.

The mafia is far stronger and will win and so you can't start a war if you have no power to be able to win them.

Every child understands that the Unions Mafia, is someone with whom it doesn't pay to start up with and only a fool, would dare step on their tows and expect to come out OK.

Rubashkin is in Jail only because he was so arrogant to think he can fight the unions.

Does anyone TODAY, still think that Rubashkin had won and that the unions lost?

The sooner Bloomberg learns from Rubashkin, the sooner our snow will get plowed.

Can you imagine what happens if the NYPD or the Fire Dept. or the City Ambulance Drivers, try these very same, Sanitation Work Slowdown tactics?

Do wee need to wait until after more similar disasters, before we learn that in the USA, our Legal System has been compromised by the laws which protect the Unions.

There is no point in complaining, at how bad the unions are because there is nothing we can do to change it now - The Law is the Law and the Unions are KING (By Law) and they rule the USA workforce.

21

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:37 AM Grab Your CAMCORDER and Shoot Says:

It’s not too late to catch all sanitation workers doing their dirty work on camera.

This fight and slowdown by the Sanitation workers is not over yet.

Everyone needs to get out their camcorder and record as much widespread wrongdoing by sanitation workers - the more footage the better.

When Police depts. are guilty of Police brutality, it's is only Camcorder footage which can break their unions. Without recorded video, it's your word against theirs and they can make up lies that it was all accidental. The Video footage is always the only way we can secure a conviction against the wrongdoers.

As of this minute Thursday, 11:34 pm, the sanitation workers are still playing the same game.

Lets catch them on VIDEO, how they keep their plows high up and how the deliberately break their trucks and similar stuff.

Remember that your camcorder video could help win this case especially if your video ends up going Viral on youtube.

22

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:39 AM ALLAN Says:

Where was the outgoing Governor during all of this obvious slowdown...has he abandoned his post and duties? The National Guard should have been brought in to assist. The Guard has heavy equipment that could have been very helpful, and could have been used to transport sick to hospitals. At a minimum their Humvee's could have been life savers.

23

 Dec 30, 2010 at 11:59 AM chayamom Says:

Does anyone remember when the air traffic controllers went on strike. The pres gave them a time limit to get back to work or they'll all be fired. They ignored the pres. He fired them and replaced them all.
If Bloomberg had any guts he would have done the same. Don't play their game--show some real leadership skills!!
They should all be fired and replaced with non-union workers!!

24

 Dec 30, 2010 at 12:20 PM puppydogs Says:

I usually tip the sanitation works during the holiday time, well not this year my friend. I urge you to do the same.

25

 Dec 30, 2010 at 02:01 PM Yossi Says:

Reply to #24  
puppydogs Says:

I usually tip the sanitation works during the holiday time, well not this year my friend. I urge you to do the same.

First of all it is illegal to TIP NYC employees and the pick up people are not the same who shovel snow...If you always tipped you probably felt they did something extra which is NOT included in the taxes you are paying to have your garbage collected.

26

 Dec 30, 2010 at 03:57 PM ShatzMatz VIDEO please Says:

Reply to #17  
ShatzMatz Says:

It was very obvious that this was a work action. I saw plenty of plows getting themselves stuck in the snow. Yesterday I saw a plow meticulously plowing a small unused stretch of old new utrecht rd between church ave and 14 ave. He spent 2 hours going back and forth over the same street moving every last flake to the side. I think that only 4 cars pass that road a day, since it leads to nowhere.

The irony of it is that it is now 5 days after the storm and the sanitation workers are still getting paid overtime to plow. They are making off like bandits while we paid a heavy price.

I know that a lot of people on this site don't like Bloomberg. But in this case it is important to fight back against the selfish sanitation workers. Bloomberg will not have the strength to fight them if the people are against him. We should stick to Bloomberg on this one issue so that he can take the neccessary action against the unions for this incredible act of treachery.

BTW, Sanitation workers are very well paid, and they have cushy contracts that let them quickly finish their outes in 2 hours and get paid for an 8 hour shift. This is legal stealing. Overtime is another killer

Hikind needs your video of these types of things to be able to prove your point.

Otherwise it is your word against the 5,000 sanitation workers and their powerful unions.

Whom will Bloomberg believe?

1 ShatzMatz who says he had seen it or will Bloomberg take the word of 5,000 sanitation workers who will testify that there was no deliberate slowdown?

27

 Dec 30, 2010 at 04:03 PM A Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

This is the kind of "industrial action" that is common all over Europe. Get used to it since we will see many more such actions in the months ahead as the cities and states try to reduce their budgets by cutting pay and pensions of public workers. These sanitation men work hard and barely earn a living wage in NYC (most earn less than $100 K) so a pay freeze is unfair.

You know what, I don't care that they aren't making more than 100K/year, big whoop. I know people that would do almost anything to earn that much. You have millions of people who lost their jobs in the past 2 years, they're making less than 1K/year, are you crying for them? If the city and state have to cut jobs, salaries or benefits then that's what they have to do. I'm not happy about it but that's the reality. If the sanitation workers don't like it they can quit and go look for another job that they think exists that will pay them what they think they deserve. Good luck to them. I know a lot of people that worked hard their entire lives and their pensions were lost, these civil workers are darn lucky they still have pensions!
Imagine! Feeling sorry for people who have good paying jobs with benefits and who got OVERTIME PAY for not doing their jobs in an emergency situation! Give your sympathy to someone who deserves it!

28

 Dec 30, 2010 at 07:32 PM Shlomo Says:

Reply to #3  
Joe-Shmoe Says:

fire the unions! they kill every business with their greed! I just blame bloomberg for not yelling this out loud! we all understand the state of the economy, we all know he had to drastically cut the budget, as painfull as it is. for union bums to take this opportunity and strike in this manner should get them in jail! how many people didn't get medical care they soo direly needed! they are bloody murderers! off with their heads! I hope bloomberg really fights them back! he has the money!

If they did as accused, the workers should be fired. However,it's not as simple as "fire the unions." I've worked in both union and non-union jobs. Unions are a necessary counter-balance to the power of management (read some history about how workers were treated in pre-organized labor times). The problem is the political deal-making, the dysfunctional involvement of Albany in City contracts, and in some cases the interference by organized crime. I've seen good unions that were "rational" in their demands and created a "win-win" environment and I've seen bad unions that were corrupt, greedy, and bad for both their workers and the company.

29

 Dec 30, 2010 at 10:41 PM shredready Says:

Reply to #2  
Upset Says:

The sanitation department has blood on its hands. They are criminal murders. Even if they escape prosecution from civil authorities they cannot escape the hand of G-d. May those who participated in this act of wholesale murder for money have their names blotted out and have to plow snow forever in Gehenum!

I just hope you where not one of the people who left their car in middle of the street then you are guilty of the same crime.

If one really looks at the time line of events and knows how things are mobilized, and how sanitation, MTA and other agencies work, the main reason for the mess is that the mayor failing to call a snow emegercy.

Because of that error buses went out of the depot when they should not, same with the train and sanitation did not pre-salt the roads.

People need to get a life it was the sixth bigger snowstorm in NY history, deal with it

30

 Dec 31, 2010 at 07:58 AM Crusty Says:

Be very, very careful about believing stories based on 3 anonymous reports. Be very careful believing the story alleged by a long-time enemy of unions. And be very careful believing a story that Bloomberg & Co have every good reason to float.

The Department of Sanitation did not call a snow emergency until after the snow started falling. Because they were late, hiring the private contractors was delayed, snow plowing and salt spreading was delayed, and buses were sent out to the streets when they normally would not have. Even if some sanitation workers worked slowly they would not have made a dent compared to the gross incompetence of the DSNY managers.

31

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