New York City Sanitation Department’s Slow Snow Cleanup was a Budget Protest. According to the New York Post, the workers selfishly slowed down the cleanup in order to pad more overtime hours. Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, in light of a recent slew of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens) told the Post that he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department, as well as two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan, at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from citizens.
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.” 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.
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.
My take on it
Personally, at the risk of sounding cold and callous, I fully support the Sanitation Worker’s decision to bail out on the city. To demote people and slash salaries is demeaning at any occupation, let alone that of a Sanitation Worker. What gets people to still sign up for this job that nobody wants is the high pay. To take that away in the name of the economic and city crisis is not a way to motivate employees who have to deal with other s**t, literally.
Therefore, once s**t hits the fan, so to say, it’s warranted. Slashing salaries from hard workers so the Mayor can enjoy his limo rides is not the way.
However, this is not the first time that Sanitation workers striked, so to say. For a change, I’m agreeing with them. However, there were incidents in the past that were despicable.
Toronto’s Garbage Strike in the Summer of 2009
Toronto, a city known for its cleanliness, was hit with a curveball when the city’s Sanitation department went on strike during a hot Summer period in 2009 demanding more pay and benefits. When they were told no, they essentially made the city stink by not picking up any garbage for weeks. In order to combat this, people had to manually drive their garbage up to dumps. To add insult to injury, the sanitation department’s workers manned the land fills, limiting the amount of garbage to be brought in. The backs of people’s cars stank for months as a result.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for the locals, as hot weather makes rotten things stink faster and attract flies.
I still remember a couple of entrepreneurs who made a killing during that period by renting a U-Haul truck and picking up everyone’s garbage at $5 a bag! This was a service few people could pass up. I also remember the amount of home-made fly traps we made with rotten strawberries to trap the hundreds of flies in our apartment at the time.
NYC Transit Strike of 2005
In 2005, New York City Transit workers went on strike over the same thing: money and benefits, during the cold of Winter, on December 20th. The strike lasted 3 days and essentially crippled the city, which heavily relied on the transit system to commute to and from work.
Roger Toussant was the person behind the entire scheme, and was rewarded by Mayor Mike Bloomberg with a 10 day jail sentence. In addition, Mayor Bloomberg fined the union $2.5 million and suspension of automatic due deductions to all members.
Here’s a video of Assemblyman Dov Hikind and his take on the City’s (and Mike Bloomberg’s) failure to react to the blizzard, crippling New York for 3 days: