EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8 is learning more about what happened in East Hartford
that led plow drivers to call out sick just as the state was getting hit with one of the biggest snowstorms in recent years.
The Highway Division of the East Hartford Department of Public Works (DPW) said 40% of union members called out sick.
Mayor Marcia Leclerc said that was totally unacceptable.
The union claims it was not an orchestrated walkout. However, News 8 has learned that the union and town hall are entering contract talks.
Other public works departments stepped up and the DPW had to move workers around quickly in order for East Hartford to properly clean the roads – as more than 8″ of snow were dumped there.
Union spokesman Larry Dorman said they never orchestrated a “sick out,” adding that the mayor’s 40% is an inflated number.
The union says the town only factored in the Highway Department in that figure when all Public Works employees are called in for storms. They add the callouts were not intentional.
However, Leclerc said the senior staff got out of trucks and walked off the job at 3 p.m. – just as the storm was ramping up, refusing to work overtime.
“To play these types of games, where you are putting public safety at risk, potentially jeopardizing someone’s life, keeping an ambulance from getting to a particular house, is just unconscionable,” she said.
Leclerc said the union contract expires in 2021, adding that and this is not the way to begin negotiations.
The union says they are filing an unfair labor practice complainst against the town.