Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cuts To The Workforce

400 fewer sanitation workers from two years ago.

There was a larger snowfall in February 2006 than the one that fell this week.

The snow removal back then went fine.

400 fewer workers this year, not so great with the removal:

New York City's response to the blizzard has been hampered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to reduce the Sanitation Department's workforce as part of citywide budget cuts, the head of the sanitation workers' union charged Monday.

"We are undermanned—we need another 400" workers, Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, said in a telephone interview. "This is a perfect example of why you need the manpower in New York City. We're shorthanded here."

Jason Post, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, confirmed that there are 400 fewer workers at the department than two years ago, but insisted the city's snow-fighting force has not been diminished.

"The number of people assigned to snow fighting is the same," Mr. Post said. "How? Other staff normally working in administrative positions have been reassigned to field posts."


Still, the city on Sunday announced it was seeking to hire private heavy-duty equipment to assist the sanitation department with snow removal. It is also seeking "licensed operators of dump trucks, tractor trailers, and roll-on roll-off trucks," the department said in a statement.

Mr. Nespoli praised the workforce, saying the workers are doing a yeoman's job. But he said the staff reductions have nevertheless taken a toll.

"Whenever you cut your workforce down, it's going to hurt services," Mr. Nespoli said. "Guys are retiring, and they have to replace these people. You can't allow a city like New York not to have the services that the public's used to," he said. "This is a major blizzard."

To combat multibillion dollar deficits, Mr. Bloomberg has been aggressively cutting city agency budgets to keep the books balanced. He unveiled last month his latest round of budget cuts, which called for a further reduction—via attrition—of 265 sanitation workers by June 2012.

As for the reassigned sanitation employees who got put onto snow removal duty with little training, NY 1 reports just how little training they actually received:

“The biggest problem's we're not getting the tow trucks we need. We hired equipment, which we normally do. They’re not coming in,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. “We have cars in there, we have to dig them out. We can’t get through the street, and that’s what’s impeding the whole operation in many ways.”

In an exclusive interview with NY1 later in the day, Doherty admitted that the massive blizzard that swept across the city got ahead of the department and that he was forced to use workers who had less training than usual.

"They only went to school for two weeks, they usually would go for a month,” Doherty said. "I put them out there on Sunday I said ‘You’re out on the street. They said: ‘We’ve only had a couple days of driving.’ ‘ I want you in the truck with a seasoned guy, You’re going to learn on the job, real time, real conditions, get the job done.'"

Maybe Bloomberg can just outsource the whole thing to the CityTime folks?

Or maybe he already has?

Just wait until additional layoffs to the city workforce come in June and at the end of 2011 as are expected.

Snowmageddon 2010 may spread to the schools, fire houses and police precincts.

But at least the budget will be balanced without Bloomberg having to raise taxes on hedge fund managers.

And at the end of the day, isn't that what really matters?


  1. I'm sure that the investigation into this unmitigated disaster is going to yield some shocking discoveries.

    The private contractors who were derelict in their duties should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and have their pants sued off.

    The thousands upon thousands of private citizens who ignored ample 36+ hour warnings and blithely and unnecessarily drove in a blizzard, got stuck, abandoned their vehicles, and gummed up the works for hundreds of emergency response vehicles, snowplows, and buses? Some of them have blood on their hands tonight (literally--read the Times).

    And it doesn't pass the smell test to blame sanitation's disastrous performance solely on 100 half-trained workers (who are riding with vets in any case). There are too many odd sightings being reported out there -- idling plows; plows going over a well-cleared route over and over again, ignoring nearby untouched streets; plows operating with blades fully lifted or only partially lowered; blocks and blocks not seeing even a single plow since the storm began, etc.

    The public official who spearheads a no-sacred-cows, no-stone-unturned, special-interests-be-damned investigation into this mess will be a formidable front-runner for mayor in 2013. And in the meantime, let's hope everyone comes to their senses and gets this wrapped up and the number of tragically unnecessary deaths is held to a minimum.

  2. Wow, very little training. Sounds TFA-ish.

    Good job, mayor.