State DOT seeks 105 hires in Capital Region before winter hits

A NYSDOT snowplow pushes the remaining snow off Route 146 in Clifton Park after less than an inch of snow fell in the Capital Region earlier in the day on Feb. 7, 2021.
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A NYSDOT snowplow pushes the remaining snow off Route 146 in Clifton Park after less than an inch of snow fell in the Capital Region earlier in the day on Feb. 7, 2021.

LATHAM — Winter is coming.

Before it hits, the New York State Department of Transportation wants more hands on deck.

“So right now we have the ability to get the job done,” said NYSDOT Region 1 Director Patrick Barnes, regarding snowplow drivers. “But we’re always looking to round out that number. It’s good to have that safety factor.“

NYSDOT announced 105 permanent and seasonal openings in the greater Capital Region last week for fleet technicians and highway maintenance workers. Altogether, NYSDOT has more than 600 openings statewide.

The agency division wants enough staffing this season to accommodate at least two separate shifts per truck and fill each supervising role tasked with monitoring drivers.

Highway agencies, including NYSDOT, across the country have fallen short of optimal snowplow operator work force levels since the labor market dipped at the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic.

Employee turnover is slightly above average in Region 1, but consistent with 2021. The agency division had about 500 employees at the height of last season, including more than 180 snowplow operators.

Much of the turnover is a result of employee retirement, according to a NYSDOT spokesperson.

For others, the quality of work isn’t an ideal fit.

“You know, I think a lot of people don’t even know what this job is about,” said Barnes, “and I’ve been with the department for quite a few years and we have people come in and decide this isn’t for them.”

During the winter, plow truck drivers typically work 12-hour shifts. Region 1 temporarily sends employees throughout the state to fill labor gaps and demands during snow and ice storms. That excludes New York City which operates snow-plowing services autonomously from NYSDOT.

Long-term employees, Barnes said, thrive behind the wheel, receive gratification from clearing the streets, and enjoy receiving kudos from passersby. In the offseason, plow drivers remove trees, repair bridges, and maintain highways.

In order to get the job, applicants be a minimum of 18 years old, pass a drug test and pass a medical examination. Employees are trained to get a commercial vehicle license early on as well.

Entry-level highway positions at NYSDOT offer between $39,000 to $43,000, according to online listings. The job also offers call-out bonuses, equipment allowances, and retirement benefits.

“It’s a place that you can have a whole life career in and a very good ending,” said Scott Owens, Region 1 highway maintenance supervisor.

Tyler A. McNeil can be contacted at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]

 

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

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