Discipline Rescinded; UPSEU New Haven DPW Member Made Whole
Updated On: Apr 19, 2018
UPSEU member and Public Works employee Scott Murphy, a driver for The Refuse Division in the City of New Haven, was issued a three day suspension without just cause. While during the normal course of his day consists of collecting refuse from residential neighborhoods, all refuse drivers are required to assist in snow removal operations during snow events.
Murphy’s normal assignment during snow storms was to operate a small plow truck on his familiar route, clearing snow from parking lots. However, at the start of a snow storm, Murphy was directed to do “push back” (cleaning the snow up to the curb) on an unfamiliar route, using a large snow plow. He immediately raised concern with his supervisor, explaining that he had not been trained on the much larger plow, which was newer to the fleet. Despite relaying concerns over the route he was given, including his not being familiar with the layout, he was told to perform the assignment he was given.
While plowing in the early morning hours, Murphy accidently hit a bump out curb that was non-detectable through the accumulating snow, causing damage to the plow. The city issued Murphy a three day suspension for what they deemed as gross negligence. Murphy filed a grievance, believing that the accident was just that; an accident. Labor Relations Representative Colleen Ezzo stated “The Union supported Mr. Murphy and this grievance, and there was no evidence presented that identified any negligence. Clearly Mr. Murphy did his best to raise valid concerns with his supervisors.” During the initial level grievance hearings, the city refused to budge, and the Union filed the grievance to arbitration.
In a recent decision, the arbitration panel sided with the union, finding that there was no just cause and ordered that the discipline be rescinded and that Mr. Murphy receive payment for the three days. Scott Murphy, upon learning of the decision stated, “I couldn’t be happier! I want to thank Colleen Ezzo and Attorney Ditman, for all their dedication and support in fighting this!”