* From Aviva Bowen at the IFT…
As the Chicago area forecast shows several inches of snow and more bitter cold headed our way this weekend, I wanted to put this info back at the top of your inbox. These workers deal with dangerous conditions to keep us safe and will be putting in even more hours in the days ahead while unwisely understaffed.
* From a recent press release…
The recent winter storms that shut down roads in Illinois exposed a serious potential public safety and financial problem in Cook County. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) doesn’t have enough mechanics to keep snow plows running, so they had to call in 30 mechanics from the National Guard just to keep the fleet on the road recently.
“We can’t call in the military every time we have a snow storm,” said Tom Kosowski, President of the Illinois Federation of Public Employees (IFPE), IFT Local 4408. “We don’t have enough mechanics and shopkeepers to do the job. If we can’t keep plows running to clear the roads, they won’t be safe for anyone.”
Public employees have been on the front lines statewide, often working 21-hour days to keep up with recent storms while severely short-handed. Instead of hiring more IDOT workers, the state calls in military support, spends additional money to hire private companies, uses employees who aren’t trained mechanics, and forces their own mechanics to work large amounts of overtime.
These unqualified workers without the appropriate experience on state vehicles create a potential danger to motorists and more cost to taxpayers.
A $3-million study conducted for the state showed that maintaining the state’s vehicles in house is more efficient and saves taxpayer dollars. Maximus Fleet Management Consulting recommended that IDOT hire more mechanics to work on the fleet and more storekeepers to handle inventory.
“Hiring more IDOT mechanics will help keep people safe and save the state more money,” said Matt Emigholz, Vice President of Local 4408. “We don’t understand why IDOT won’t follow the advice they paid to receive.”
At the Rodenburg facility in Schaumburg alone, 15 of 22 plows are not working at this time. If the garages were properly staffed, the right amount of inventory would be stocked at the most efficient cost and mechanics could perform preventative maintenance to keep the fleet running longer.
That study referenced above is here on page 46.
*** UPDATE *** From IDOT…
In response your post today:
IDOT crews work diligently each and every day to ensure the safety of the motoring public.
During the height of the recent polar vortex, IDOT had 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state, and nearly 3,700 full- and part-time employees available to help ensure roads were clear and passable.
With the unprecedented statewide winter storm conditions of Jan. 4-8 and subsequent regional snowfall and bitter temperatures, IDOT crews were out working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. These historic conditions did strain our vehicles, but at no point did we have an insufficient number to keep the roads cleared and salted. In District 1 (Cook County area), there were 440 trucks to cover 370 routes.
Safety is our number one priority and IDOT has consistently kept the necessary number of trucks on the road. That will continue through the winter.
No mechanics were approved to work 21 hours and the claim that IDOT lacks an adequate number of mechanics is absolutely false. And any outside mechanics we use are retained year-round and are highly-experienced and highly-qualified.
These weather conditions have not been experienced in over 20 years so utilizing National Guard personnel is not a common occurrence.
Chief Communication Officer - IDOT