NYC Sanitation Workers Absenteeism Double the Norm, As Union Head Says 'You Can Never Count on the Privates'

From the New York Times on Thursday, in an item put together with the help of a half-dozen Times reporters ("Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down"; bold is mine):

... Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday (during the initial stages of the Northeast's post-Christmas snowstorm -- Ed.) underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.


“You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”

That's quite an interesting assertion, given the following item carried in the New York Post today:

More workers catch a 'cold'


Between 660 and 720 Sanitation workers called in sick for the cleanup of last week's blizzard -- more than double the usual rate, The Post has learned.


About 11 to 12 percent of the Sanitation Department's 6,000-strong force didn't show up for work on Monday or Tuesday, city officials confirmed, as 20 inches of snow brought the Apple to a near-standstill.

Perhaps one of the six reporters at the Times might consider taking a moment away from their paper's knee-jerk sympathy for organized labor, seemingly regardless of the damning circumstance, and ask Mr. Nespoli of the Sanitaationmen's Union, who you would think would have been aware of the absenteeism issue when interviewed, to elaborate on who can and can't be counted on in a municipal emergency.

By the way, a "normal" workforce absenteeism rate of 5%-6% (i.e., half the reported 11%-12% during the storm, or roughly 11-13 days a year) would be considered completely intolerable at just about any private sector company.

Cross-posted at

Unions Political Groups Labeling Double Standards Bias by Omission Media Bias Debate Government Agencies New York Times New York Post Harry Nespoli

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