Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just the way for unions to win public support!

With all of New York City complaining about the slow digging out from the Christmas blizzard, it turns out that it was more than the massive snowfall that was slowing things down. A couple of shame-faced sanitation workers have come forward to confess that their union bosses sent out the word to slow things down in retaliation for budget cuts to the department.
"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.
The Sanitation Department is denying this - though how would they know? And aren't they just as liable to be angry over budget cuts and secretly glad for the perception that they need more men and pay? Despite the denials from the union bosses, there seems to be ample evidence than more than just an overwhelmed reaction to a massive storm is at work.
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.
This is an opportunity for Mayor Bloomberg to show some real leadership. He needs to get to the bottom of this story and, if it's true, he needs to make sure that legal action is taken against the culpable parties. And any union worker who participated in the slowdown should be fired. With unemployment what it is, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who would like those jobs. So there have been cutbacks in their department - what is it about humongous budget deficits that these guys don't get?

This was more than just an inconvenience to New Yorkers during a holiday week. What if someone had a health emergency and couldn't get to the hospital in time? Those union workers would have blood on their hands.

Ask yourself - what would Rudy do?

UPDATE: J. P. Freire adds in these details about how well-compensated Sanitation Department workers are.
According to the Manhattan Institute's "See Through New York" database of 2009 pensions, nearly 180 retired employees make over $66,000 year -- in other words, over and above the maximum salary of currently working employees. In fact, 20 retirees make upwards of $90,000 in retirement, up to $132,360....

Just to be clear, the top salary of $66,672 is only the tip of the iceberg for active sanitation worker compensation because it excludes other things like overtime and extra pay for certain assignments. For example, one worker in 2009 had a salary of $55,639 but actually earned $79,937 for the year.

And many retirees get full health care coverage for themselves and their families as well, through the New York City Health Benefits Program -- where they get to enjoy such benefits as prescription drug coverage , dental, and eye care, without having to pay a nickle on premiums. (All active employees get this benefit.)
Then remember this fact.
According to an October report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy, New York City has nearly $63 billion in unfunded liabilities for government retiree health benefits -- effectively shoveling $7,343 per city resident into public workers' pockets.
But no, they are angry over any attempt to cut back on spending. This is the mentality that is bankrupting their city.