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Public Employee Press

Bringing in the work

Kingston, NY ends privatized snow job

Local 1322 2nd Vice President Tom Hinchey (left) and the crew of union members responsible for snow removal and
maintenance at Dept. of Environmental Protection’s upstate Kingston facility and training center.

Snow is no problem since Local 1322 contracted in snow removal and winter maintenance at Dept. of Environmental Protection offices in Kingston, New York.

“This simple plan saves the city thousands of dollars and improves safety and accessibility at DEP facilities,” said Local 1322 President Thomas Verdone.

The contracted-in winter maintenance improves safety for DEP’s large staff that includes about 150 DC 37 members and visitors to the Kingston-based main facility and training center, police and security buildings and parking lots.

The union crew does a better, more cost-effective job. Tom Hinchey: “No matter how you look at it by doing the work ourselves, DEP realizes savings.”
Worsening contractor work
Since the Kingston offices opened in 1999, a private contractor plowed and salted the parking lots and roads while maintenance employees handled the sidewalks and walkways. Snowfall can start as early as mid-October and last through April in Kingston and other upstate counties.

“Over the years the cost for winter maintenance continued to rise even as management found the contractor’s services deteriorating,” said Tom Hinchey, the 2nd vice president of Local 1322, who oversees the crew responsible for the work. “Often winter cleanup was either not completed by 6:30 a.m., as indicated in the scope of work, or we had to call the contractor back to re-plow or re-treat areas.”

After crunching the numbers, Hinchey said if they borrowed additional snow removal equipment from nearby DEP facilities, the unionized crew could do a better, more cost-efficient job than the private contractor.

“No matter how you look at it by doing the work ourselves, DEP would realize a savings,” Hinchey said.

The plan is a win-win that sidelines needless privatization, potentially saves New York City about $7,000 a year and puts more hard-earned dollars in workers’ paychecks.

DEP crews use a borrowed AEBI snow blower to easily clear nine acres of parking lots and surrounding grounds and roadways at Kingston facilities.
At the first major snowfall, the Kingston crew took on Mother Nature with a few borrowed items — a salt spreader and a couple of AEBI snow blowers — and easily cleared nine acres of DEP parking lots and surrounding grounds and roadways.

“Now we remove snow as needed throughout the day at the discretion of DEP staff — not a private contractor,” Hinchey said. “It makes for a safer workplace.”