Union Snow Sabotage in New York City?

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It is no secret that 2011 will be a year in which discussions regarding public sector unionization and its affect on state budgets across the nation will reach fever pitch.  The underwriting of pension and healthcare benefits, often kicking in for workers who retire in their fifties, has pushed several states to the brink of insolvency.  How will such workers react to fiscal reality?  If a story being reported exclusively (at this writing) by the New York Post is any indication, Americans are in for a rough ride–both figuratively and literally.

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 29th, 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.  This is the lowest amount of man power that we ever went into a winter with.  There’s certain agencies you just don’t cut.”  “We just lost the storm, ” he added.

Mayor Bloomberg wasn’t buying it. He denied the budget cuts had anything to do with the response, claiming that the “number of plows and boots on the street were the same as in previous storms,” while suggesting part of the blame could be directed at New Yorkers themselves, who drove in spite of warnings not to, and who failed to understand that the 911 emergency system had to be limited to life-threatening calls during the blizzard.  “Unfortunately, too many people didn’t listen and that overwhelmed the system,” the mayor said. “That’s really been the key difference that we can point to so far between this snow storm and others.”

In fairness to the Mayor, there was some truth to those claims.  Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Deputy Commissioner Francis X. Gribbon reported that the 911 system had been “overwhelmed,” with a high-point backlog of 1350 calls, of which “only one in three” were genuinely life-threatening emergencies. And at one point during the storm, over six hundred city buses had been stuck in the snow, and one thousand cars had been removed from three of the city’s major roadways.

On Wednesday, however, the city was rocked by some damning allegations: 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.”

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  • kafir4life

    Unions, like the rest of the left and at it's head the obama admin, care only about agendas, not people. If people die, unions (and obama) are to blame. I was in a union years ago, and tried to not work on Saturday (the Sabbath). I was told by the union that only seniority, not faith, would decide the days I had to work. Had I been a follower of the madman pedophile, mad mo, they would have made accomodations out of fear of normal muslim behavior.

    • Paul

      What do muslims have to do with it?

    • Jim

      It looks like most here are ready to let Mayor Bloomberg off the hook in favor of blaming the workers and unions. It looks like Bloomberg is in usual form deflecting the blame.

      If in fact the workers have been on 12 to 14 hours shifts making up for shortfalls in staffing, those same workers would be pretty tired. How many of you have worked long shifts like that for an extended period? It takes a physical toll.

      I think if the mayor made an effort to treat the entire city of New York with the same efforts he uses to accomodate its muslim population and the ground zero mosque we wouldn't still be reading about this…..

      • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

        I have for years now making 30 percent of what the workers make in that city.

        and come on that ass Bloomberg has so many back door deals its a joke he must b making 30 million a years without any tax, if you know what i mean? he must be a made guy?

    • richard

      you are right about the muslims, & or other groups. they would make a stink and the powers that be would accommodate them. just like the airport security. it's in place because of fanatical muslims, yet they are going to let muslims inspect them at airports, which means they won't have to go thru scanners, or get patted down. only the head gear will get patted down. that's what he means about muslims. i don't have a problem w/muslims in general however he has an absolute point and it is relevant.

    • scum

      This is not a Muslim issue. It's not a Left/Right issue. It's hardly even a union issue. It's simply a bureacracy that is providing payback for cuts in jobs. It's hardly worth an article. Can you see me yawning already?

  • Cuban Refugee

    The NY Blizzard of 2010 disaster is but a relatively mild portend of things to come under our new socialist model for which Bloomberg is one of the puppets. Perhaps if he had cared less about salt in our food, and more about spreading it on the streets outside the theater district and the boroughs, two innocent victims of the rapacious unions' work slowdown might still be alive. Those responsible for instigating the criminal behavior that paralyzed a city and caused two deaths should be immediately arrested. Greece is coming to N.Y. and to other cities in the U.S. — just wait until the union thugs get a whifff of the negative balance in their pensions — the nightmare after the blizzard was just a little amuse bouche.

  • Cuban Refugee

    The NY Blizzard of 2010 disaster is but a relatively mild portend of things to come under our new socialist model for which Bloomberg is one of the puppets. Perhaps if he had cared less about salt in our food, and more about spreading it on the streets outside the theater district and the boroughs, two innocent victims of the rapacious unions' work slowdown might still be alive. Those responsible for instigating the criminal behavior that paralyzed a city and caused two deaths should be immediately arrested. Greece is coming to N.Y. and to other cities in the U.S. — just wait until the union thugs get a whiff of the negative balance in their pensions — the nightmare after the blizzard was just a little amuse bouche.

  • TEJ

    Happen to find this article. My question is that I did not here about any of its own citizens trying to help them selves or what they could do to help. Seems like all we doing is becoming more and more dependent on the government and whining. We need to shrink the government. Ever thought about having volunteer emergency road clearing crew when these kinds of emergencies happen.

  • Crosscut

    Urban dwellers are a bunch of helpless babies. Public service unions got the upper hand thanks to the Democrat Party. You city folks are shafted.

  • richard

    well there was at least one woman who died because an ambulance could not get to her home i believe. i don't believe sending a message is worth one life. i'm sure these guys get
    good pay, medical plan, etc. i wish i had a job as good as theirs.

    • CanadConserv

      The union and city should be sued by her relatives.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    NY City has no money for things like snow. after all no money in doing the job of running that city.

  • http://davids-home-now.blogspot.com David Thomas

    The tradition of New Years in Times Square won't be the same. The response of the mayor and the unions to the snowstorm has already dropped the ball.

  • jjj

    did anyone read the articles? the union told thier people not to plow timely!!!!! how many people died and could of died as a result??? fire the union!! this had to do with union greed and not cuts!!! f the union!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • USMCSniper

    Watch this how Unions are bankrupting cities and states with their excessive salaries, benefits, and pensions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pUCyHxryEA

  • Todd Sandry

    As a Pub Empl Union Member I have found the union interest is in their retaining and gaining pwr not in the best interest of the employee or the interrest. Firmly believe that there needs to be fair representation of all parties at a bargaining table, but today labor reps often know little about the mission of those they represent. DAMN THE UNION and its HACKS>

  • bigbadjack

    I am long-retired. I have been a member of THREE unions, the last one a public-sector version. All are now totally corrupt and self-serving. Thankfully, none ask for my support any more, as I let them know in no uncertain terms why I oppose virtually everything they want to impose upon America…marxism. No sale here!

  • 2maxpower

    no question to who I believe on this one. unions have no place in public service.

  • mike

    Just remember these are public unions. Don't lump the trade unions in with the public or auto unions.

    • Fed_Republic

      PFFT! ALL UNIONS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN PARASITES AND ARE LOWER THAN BOTTOM FEEDER EXCREMENT!

  • NYStranger

    As a foreigner living in the City for a long time, I admire the fellow citizens who tried to clear as much as they could during these snow days. I have no respect however to those whose duty it was (I would even dare to suggest to stick a shovel into each and every union member's ass, but I suspect it may be anti-constitutional). The unions (the Strongest, the Strongest Undergrounders, the Bloodiest Servants of Humanity etc) are one of the darkest sides of urban existence. They are the real threat to the rest of the city dwellers. Although, I must admit, that unions are a haven for the third-raters and losers, and united this way they can be if not controlled, then at least observed by others.
    With colossal respect to all non-union new yorkers.

  • Fed_Republic

    My father, may he rest in peace, was a railroad worker for most of his working life. A dangerous thankless job that ruined his health and the health of everyone subjected to that horrid environment!
    What did the Union do for him? NOTHING!
    When he was fired for obeying the rulebook (oh yes they have one) regarding the protection of the train at an unmarked crossing over the orders of a pinhead yard superintendent 20 miles away, he was fired and the GODDAMN UNION DID NOTHING, NADA!
    But sure as hell the F-ing Union did not have any problem robbing his paycheck for their filthy union dues on the day he was fired!
    F the F-ing UNIONS, MAY THEY ALL ROT IN HELL!!!

  • SoCal

    You are witnessing a small sample with New York and New Orleans what will occur if we are ever hit with an EMP attack. God help the urban dweller. Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Those who cannot fend for themselves … get ready to meet your maker!