North Providence DPW addresses storm staffing issues

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several North Providence Department of Public Works employees called in sick and didn’t work during the last big snowstorm, Eyewitness News has learned.

On Thursday, Eyewitness News spoke with Mayor Charles Lombardi and the city’s DPW director about their snow preparation plans for this weekend. According to officials, things should go as planned.

“We’re expecting the temperatures to go down and switch from freezing rain to snow,” said Bernard Salvatore, acting director of the city’s Dept. of Public Works. “So we are going to combat the storm in a flexible manner. And we will clear the roads and get the commute going for tomorrow morning.”

Salvatore said he did not have an exact number of how many crews would be on the roads overnight Thursday into Friday morning treating roads.

“By the close of business today, we’ll be convening a meeting with the Union Body 94 and we’ll be getting a commitment from them before they leave,” he explained. “So that I can make the proper program and not have to wait for no calls or no shows.”

Officials said those are things they have had to deal with during the last two storms this year.

According to Lombardi, people calling in sick won’t stop snow protocol.

“We will continue to run this department the way we have,” Lombardi said. “We’ll be calling in those workers to come in like we usually do. But if there’s anyone out there that’s part of the malcontents that thinks we are going to beg them to come to work, that’s not going to happen.”

Council 94 released a statement following the last storm, saying in part:

“Out of the 17 workers available to work, four did not report into the garage. For a non-emergency, that’s not an absurd amount of absenteeism.”

To that, Lombardi had a response.

“My answer to that is very, very simple,” he said. “If you have the ability to make time and a half, I have to order you to come into work? As far as I’m concerned, you can stay home.”

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