Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Retired Drivers Shall Help Plow Our Snow

So says the Common Council. Unanimously. Program will begin next winter.

By - Mar 27th, 2019 11:50 am
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City of Milwaukee garbage truck with attached snow plow trying to clear the street. Photo taken February 12th, 2019 by Jeramey Jannene.

City of Milwaukee garbage truck with attached snow plow trying to clear the street. Photo taken February 12th, 2019 by Jeramey Jannene.

With the snow all but gone (fingers crossed), city officials are already looking ahead to how they deal with next winter’s snowstorms.

Tuesday morning the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved a resolution introduced by Alderman Robert Bauman to create a reserve force of plow operators

The proposal came after a report from the Department of Public Works in February that said driver inexperience and staffing shortages were negatively impacting the city’s ability to plow snow. “Frankly, retirees were calling our offices and saying ‘why don’t you bring us back?’”, said Bauman.

The plan would have drivers that retired within the last three years apply to work as supplemental drivers. “We would require a commitment for the entire snow season,” said Department of Public Works administrative services director Dan Thomas in early March. Retirees could continue to draw on their pensions, but wouldn’t accrue additional benefits. They would be paid hourly at the same rate as existing drivers. After eight hours on a shift they would earn time-and-a-half pay. To qualify retirees would still need to live within 15 miles of the city.

The cost will likely be easy for the city to absorb. Thomas found that the program would likely cost $62,000, estimating 20 drivers working 10 shifts each.

“I am pleased that this legislation received unanimous support from my fellow Common Council members,” said Bauman in a statement. “This past winter demonstrated the need for experienced snow plow drivers and additional resources. Our DPW employees do outstanding work and our city could not properly function without them; this legislation gives them more resources to help them better perform their job.”

Bauman, over the course of several Public Works Committee meetings, has been very critical of the department’s recent plowing efforts.

According to Thomas the retirees, who would be hired back through a previously approved temporary appointment program, would be able to do any work associated with the snow clearing operation.

The measure was co-sponsored by Ald. Terry Witkowski.

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Related Legislation: File 181747

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