Council to Petition Fiorentini in Support of Higher Pay for Haverhill Plow Drivers

(File photograph)

Many of Haverhill’s snow plow drivers say they are not being paid enough and took their arguments to the City Council Tuesday night. (File photograph.)

Haverhill’s City Council is advocating on behalf of the city’s snow plow drivers for higher pay after meeting with one of their representatives Tuesday night and voting unanimously to send a letter to Mayor James J. Fiorentini proposing this position.

The representative for the drivers, Stephanie Lesiczka, met with the council alongside several dozen snow plow drivers present in the audience to argue drivers are not paid enough for their work. She said drivers in Haverhill make between $55 and $125 an hour, depending on the size of the equipment they use. They are hoping to make between $75 and $145. Lesiczka compared current and proposed Haverhill rates to surrounding communities like North Andover, Groveland, Reading and Franklin, where drivers make between $75 and $140 on average.

Fiorentini has met with Lesiczka and proposed a raise of $2 for all vehicles this year and again next year. She rejected the offer, saying it was not nearly enough, especially for those with larger equipment to maintain.

“So, the mayor’s offer amounts to as little as $60 per truck, in a year where we only do 30 hours, to a high of $260 per truck for an entire winter. We are not employees. We have expenses to pay. That is why we need to get up to speed with rates,” Lesiczka said.

Lesiczka also raised concerns over rising insurance costs for drivers and how three of Haverhill’s plow drivers were wrongly accused of property damage in the city. She also took issue with the Department of Public Works forcing drivers to follow specified routes on maps. She said the maps were set to arrive between Nov. 28 and 30, but never did. Lesiczka warned the council 20 pieces of equipment used for plowing last season will not be made available by drivers this season and more drivers may leave to work for other towns and cities if pay does not increase.

Councilor Timothy J. Jordan said the current pay for drivers comes off as cheap, rather than frugal, and understands why they are so upset at this. Councilor Michael S. McGonagle also supported the drivers and wants to help them earn more to take care of their equipment, but said the pay increase they proposed was unrealistic.

“You’re never going to get the 30 to 40 percent raise that you’re looking for. It’s just not going to happen. But we should get something that helps your equipment,” McGonagle said.

Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua requested the letter sent to Fiorentini also ask for the route maps to be issued as soon as possible, while Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan requested the maps to highlight school bus stop locations.

Councilor William J. Macek advised the drivers to speak out during budget deliberations this May, as the council cannot take direct action on a matter such as this.

Council President John A. Michitson said although he hopes to see more budget information and gain a better understanding of how the drivers are funded, he agreed with the drivers, saying “It’s crystal clear to me that the rates are not fair. It’s that simple.”

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien was absent for the meeting.

After the meeting, Fiorentini said the council advocating for higher pay was not helpful. However, he also said is happy to speak with any snow plow drivers who take issues with the current pay rates, saying “We’ll continue to talk to them.”