Most of us welcomed 2018 with extremely cold temperatures, complete with record-breaking wind chills.

Along with the cold air came the so-called ‘bomb cyclone,’ which delivered more than a foot of snow in some areas of New York, along with weeks of wild January weather that included bitterly cold air, spring-like temperatures and winter storms.

Whether our winters come with mild conditions or storms that earn names from The Weather Channel, one thing remains the same.

Our members are there to deliver public services, no matter how poor the weather.
While we often associate this with state and local highway workers working long hours to clear snow and ice from the roads, they are just one (important) piece of a huge network of our members who keep New York’s communities running smoothly.

When you’re entering or leaving the building you work in, thank our buildings and grounds workers for sidewalks and other walkways that are clear of snow and ice. In addition to keeping us safe, these workers are essential to keeping the public safe when they use public services.

Does your child get to and from school on a school bus? Our bus drivers and monitors work to ensure that your child’s ride is safe.

In recent weeks, numerous communities have seen flooding thanks to ice jams on waterways backing up, forcing evacuations and road closures.

When emergencies such as flooding, motor vehicle accidents or fires happen, our members are the first workers on the job, including through 911, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement or even as part of local volunteer squads.

Many public works employees have also spent time this winter dealing with water main breaks, often stemming from aging infrastructure and the cold temperatures.

While it’s important to acknowledge our members who directly respond to winter weather, it’s equally crucial to note those of you who deliver essential public services to your communities in every type of weather.

Our members who work for hospitals, Office of Mental Health and Office for People With Developmental Disabilities sites, correctional facilities and other employers who deliver vital services around the clock keep New York going, no matter what. Even if your employer doesn’t require an emergency response or 24-hour staffing, your services to our communities make a true difference every day.

We are there for our neighbors and our communities, every single day. For many of us, it’s just part of what we do. We never quit on our communities.

And that is why we are New York’s greatest value.

— Janice Gavin

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About Author

Janice Gavin

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications, Essentially Women, Retiree News and Canary. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 20 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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