For weeks, the union representing the plow drivers and other city workers has been holding rallies with those employees threatening to go on strike.
We’ve found that city hall is trying to make plans in case that happens. The city is already asking for help.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen new Cleveland plow drivers getting trained. A new system has been getting installed, replacing paper maps showing drivers where to plow.
Behind it all, city officials have been trying to make a back-up plan in the event of a strike.
The I-Team confirmed the city has reached out to suburbs to ask if their drivers would help plow city streets
“I see this as a desperate employer trying to do things,” Teamsters 507 leader Carl Pecorara said.
“The city is running into roadblocks everywhere as it relates to trying to find strike replacements, as opposed to just coming to a contract that we can all live with.”
Shaker Heights Service Director Patti Speese said a Cleveland official reached out to see if Shaker might have any help to offer.
But, the service director points out that her workers belong to the same union as the Cleveland crews, so she’d never ask them to cross a picket line.
She said Shaker Heights does not have help to lend anyway.
“As much as we would love to be good neighbors during a snow event, we barely have enough staffing,” Speese said.
Brook Park Mayor Ed Orcutt told the I-Team that Cleveland City Hall also reached out to see if his staff could help.
“We’ve got enough work to do out here. We won’t be able to help out Cleveland. We wish them the best of luck,” Orcutt said.
Garfield Heights Service Director Mark Sikon told us his town had also been contacted by the City of Cleveland, but Garfield wouldn‘t be able to help either.
“No way. All hands on deck just to keep our streets clean,” Sikon said.
We also checked with Lakewood. The mayor’s office there sent us an email, saying, “The mayor’s office had not heard any such request from the City of Cleveland, but the City of Lakewood would not participate in any street plowing in Cleveland. Lakewood is the densest city in Ohio and we use every municipal resource on hand during a snow event to clear Lakewood streets, sidewalks, rights of way, etc., as weather conditions will allow us. That is always our singular focus and will continue to be. “
So, when could we see a Cleveland plow driver strike? The union says no decision is likely until mid-January after a state labor board fact-finder comes back with a report and recommendations.
“Once we receive the decision of the fact-finder, recommendation of the fact finder, our members will vote,” Carl Pecorara said.
Until then, we see the city preparing for snow and preparing for a possible strike.
The Teamsters also represent Cleveland garbage collectors and others. So, the plow drivers would not be the only workers to walk off the job if there’s a strike.
We did not get any response from city hall before deadline on Tuesday.