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Pittsburgh plow drivers could be penalized for refusing to work overtime

Bob Bauder
| Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, 4:51 p.m.
A City of Pittsburgh public works snow plow crosses the Boulevard of the Allies as it plows the snow from the bus lane along Smithfield Street Downtown Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
A City of Pittsburgh public works snow plow crosses the Boulevard of the Allies as it plows the snow from the bus lane along Smithfield Street Downtown Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.

Pittsburgh Public Works employees who refuse overtime during snowstorms shouldn't expect a promotion and could be demoted, city officials said Thursday.

Mayor Bill Peduto said the city would change its system for calling out plow drivers and laborers during bad weather and maintain a database of people “who say yes.”

“I had the opportunity to go through some of the call lists and note some of the people who have consistently said no,” Peduto said, adding that some of them are foremen. “When I'm looking to promote, I'm going to be looking at that list and seeing the people who've done more as the ones that get greater responsibility. The folks who are foremen should be out there first, and that's what I'm going to expect from my foremen.”

City Operations Chief Guy Costa threatened to demote bosses who refuse overtime in the future.

“If they can't come out for overtime, we don't need them in the positions they're in,” he said. “We're going to promote people who do come out and work when they're needed.”

City officials this week blamed a failure to clear streets of snow and ice on a shortage of snow plow drivers. Many drivers didn't answer their phones or refused to work over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, officials said.

More than 1,000 people called the city's 311 service line to complain that streets remained covered for days after a storm dumped freezing rain and more than 5 inches of snow on the city.

Paul Kapetanovich, recording secretary for Teamsters Local Union 249, which represents about 60 city snow plow drivers, declined comment. On Tuesday, he said drivers complained to him that the city never called them out to work over the weekend.

Peduto said the city plans to assign one person in the Public Works administration to call, text and email workers for snow removal duty and keep track of who shows up and who does not.

“We're going to work to make sure that we never get into a situation where we need 60 trucks out, but we only have 45 drivers,” Peduto said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, or on Twitter @bobbauder

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