Facing driver shortage, Albany to rely more on contractors for snow removal

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Winter is coming. But will there be enough workers and snowplows when we need them? NEWS10’s Anya Tucker looks at how one Capital Region city is handling a shortage of drivers.

Frank Zeoli is Albany’s Department of General Services Deputy Commissioner. His agency is currently facing a shortage of plow drivers — 24 of them.

“This is a busy time of year. You never know what Mother Nature is going to dump on us. We need to make sure that we have the people needed to clear that up,” says Zeoli.

But his department is not alone. Other municipalities are also seeking drivers. The NYS Department of Transportation is even posting hiring videos on social media.

During nasty storms, DGS typically recruits extra help from local contractors in the effort to clear mountains of snow. But as they continue to face a driver shortage, they are welcoming more help from private businesses, which they are hoping will now cover 40 percent of Albany’s snow during heavy snow events.

“So, we’ve got a bid out on the street now. So, if anybody’s interested, now’s the time. You can contact the city clerk’s office and get a bid packet,” Zeoli adds.

There are worker shortages across just about every industry, which began with the pandemic. Some blame a lack of desire to work. Others say the pandemic exposed inequities and frustrations over low wages.

Zeoli says starting hourly pay for an Albany city snowplow driver is just over $23.57. Which is a bit more competitive when compared to similar jobs. He adds that an issue his department is facing is a shortage of applicants with commercial drivers licenses, or CDL.

“You’ve got issues with pay. You’ve got issues with people not wanting to work. And maybe not enough people are not going in and getting that sort of a license. You need to have a commercial drivers license to operate a lot of this machinery, so as a result of that, maybe people aren’t going in that path.”

He says the city does offers free training for employees to obtain a CDL. Learn more by emailing jobs@Albanyny.gov.

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