Nearly a dozen East Haven Dept. of Public Works employees were suspended without pay last Friday, accused by Mayor Joseph Maturo of putting the public at risk by not showing up for work to plow snow covered streets.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 representative Paul Lavele told us by phone even as the first snow of the season blanketed the area, Maturo allowed the plow drivers to go home at the end of their shift to cut down overtime. The union says by the time city leaders tried to get workers to return, the roads were too treacherous.
“They should be back now,” said Lavele. “They should never have been put out. No one denied or refused to come to work. People simply, when they were offered the option for overtime, certain people accepted the overtime and others did not; but it wasn’t a requirement nor mandate,” Lavele said.
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During the height of the snowstorm East Haven police responded to 16 car crashes and 22 public hazards, including stranded drivers and icy/snowy roads. We also confirmed at least one East Haven fire truck got stuck on ice-covered road.
The mayor released a statement saying, “I am very concerned of the employees’ concerted efforts not to return to duty for the emergency snow removal. In times of snow storms, the safety of our residents and businesses are a priority!”
To that, AFSCME’s Lavele said, “I have no idea where he came up with that idea.”
The union plans to file grievance seeking to reverse the suspensions with back pay.