In New York City, the Department of Sanitation, aka “New York’s Strongest,” are tasked with clearing the streets of snow. The sixth most powerful storm in city history pounded New York on December 26, leaving as much as twenty inches of snow covering the Big Apple. Three days later, hundreds of streets remained completely unplowed. New Yorkers, true to their reputation, complained loudly and long, with anecdotal information suggesting that something was amiss with the normal street cleaning operations.
On December 29, Mayor Mike Bloomberg visited a Hunt’s Point hardware store where he expressed his “disappointment” in the snow clearing efforts. ”We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do or as the city has a right to expect,” the Mayor said. ”I cannot tell you for sure why it was a lot worse this time than at other times.”
Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association (USA), apparently had the answer which eluded the Mayor. Nespoli blamed the recent cuts to the Sanitation Department’s workforce, directly tied to New York’s budget woes, for the city’s “sluggish” response. ”The city currently has 2,400 men and women working 12-hour shifts following a series of cuts, he said.
RLC member and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens) reported that three plow workers from the Sanitation Department, and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan to Sanitation as part of the cleanup effort, came to his office and confessed that the inept response to the storm was a “shameless job action” perpetrated by Sanitation Department bosses in response to a “raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts” necessitated by the city’s budget crunch.
”They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” said Halloran . “(Sanitation workers) 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, (and) shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”
While New York City sanitation workers worked to tow a front-end loader after it got stuck, they also destroyed a parked Ford Expedition in the process.