With snow in the forecast and temperatures remaining frigid, it’s looking like Chicago will need its snow plows on the city’s salt-caked streets in the coming weeks. According to the Sun-Times, the city’s ability to deal with snow removal, trash pick-up and pothole repair could be affected by a contract dispute between City Hall and the Teamsters Local 700 union, which represents garbage truck and snowplow drivers in the Departments of Streets and Sanitation and Transportation.
The Sun-Times reports that Teamsters Local 700 has scheduled a “contract meeting and possible strike vote” for Sunday, January 7 in reaction to unfavorable talks with the city to replace a contract that expired six months ago. Obviously, a strike authorization vote doesn’t mean that a walk-out is a certainty—the union still has several bargaining sessions scheduled with the city, which will likely intensify if the possibility of a strike becomes more realistic.
If City Hall doesn’t offer up a contract that is acceptable to the union (which represents 2,032 city employees), a strike would affect snowplow drivers who plow the runways at O’Hare and Midway as well as employees who maintain the city’s fleet of plows and garbage trucks. That could lead to hundreds of canceled flights, garbage piling up on the streets and even more snow-clogged side streets—in short, the kind of situation that nearly everyone wants to avoid.