A recent trip across the Southern Tier Expressway of New York State caused me to take notice of the multiple billboards advertising for snowplow drivers desperately needed for the state's inevitable winter weather invasion. Next, I saw on LinkedIn that PennDOT was particularly begging for CDL drivers to apply for the same reason, in urgent need of snowplow drivers for this year’s winter season. Being that I am located in “snowmageddon" Erie, Pennsylvania, the thought of not having enough members on the plow crew and perhaps many drivers that are not familiar with the nuances of plowing in the Snowbelt concerns me. We can get 100 plus inches of lake effect snow per season, and travel is always a concern during the cold months.
In the 1980s, if you wanted a job with PennDOT, at least in my neck of the woods, you needed two essential components. First, as with many employment opportunities, you needed to know somebody who could vouch for you. Typically, it was someone who had already worked for the department and was respected by others. The old adage that it is who you know certainly helped at that time. As expected, I got an interview at the local PennDOT field office. The interviewer even mentioned that I had someone on the inside rooting for me. I left the office feeling pretty good, as a job with PennDOT was considered a career move and ensured a decent lifestyle for your family with an opportunity for advancement.
I never got that job as several others had similar qualifications and obviously fit the needs of the district better than I did or my inside contact wasn’t as well connected as I thought. I am pretty sure it was the latter of the two options. However, not to be deterred, I then took my equipment operating skills and oil field experience to the local government level. This proved to be more successful, but the ability to obtain a job in local government public works was still difficult and highly sought after by many qualified applicants.
Now comes the real shocker for a seasoned municipal employee. I started out as a laborer for local government 35 years ago. I always say that I have worked all aspects of the job, from the ditch to the desk. I am one of those crazy people who still like to read an actual newspaper on Sunday morning. The employment section, as of lately, has had regular advertisements asking for Township and Borough workers for various public works positions. It was practically unheard of 30 years ago. The jobs were filled quickly and usually by word of mouth. I drove past a Township building with a banner sign in the front yard, encouraging people to apply for a plow driver's position. I knew that the employment problem in the private sector, like restaurants and hotels, was difficult, but I never thought it would hit Townships and Boroughs.
Local government has always been a decent job with benefits and reasonable pay. Those that were good with tools and operating equipment would typically retire from such a position, a dedicated workforce that takes a lot of pride in their daily activities. I encourage you to treat your current employees with respect and reward them for a job well done. They rarely get praise and can be your best representatives as residents see them on the local roads almost every day.
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 32 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.