The Mystery of the Union Workers Who Didn't Clean Up Snow

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 26 2011 11:00 AM

The Mystery of the Union Workers Who Didn't Clean Up Snow

A must-read story here from Russ Beuttner and William Rashbaum, who tried to re-report a claim that became widely reported and accepted during the December snowstorm in New York -- the claim that some sanitation workers were deliberately sloughing off.

The New York Post story that launched this sourced everything to a city councilman, Daniel Halloran, who said he met with workers who ratted on the slouches.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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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."

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.

That sparked an investigation -- as it should have -- but nothing has turned up. From the NYT:

Mr. Halloran said he had been visited by two supervisors in the Transportation Department and three workers in the Sanitation Department. But the two transportation supervisors did not back up his story in interviews with investigators, according to two people briefed on the inquiries. And Mr. Halloran has steadfastly refused to reveal the names of the sanitation workers. 

But SNL bought into the lazy worker story anyway:

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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