There could be a shortage of snow plow drivers this winter, and some communities have been scrambling to find drivers.
The city of Sanford has been looking since mid-October, but there are still no takers yet for public works jobs that put workers on the streets moving snow.
“So for the plow drivers, we have two equipment operators, and also the parts person and the sign person would be plowing snow as well in the wintertime, pretty much all of our positions would plow snow. It’s what we do,” Sanford Public Works Director Matt Hill said.
Sanford Public Works says an on-call plow driver makes $18 an hour.
They say the crazy hours, combined with low unemployment and an aging workforce, have added up to trained drivers taking other jobs.
“It’s a demanding job,” Hill said. “It’s tough throughout the winter months and it takes a toll on you mentally and physically. We tried to combat that with good working conditions; try to keep high morale and support our crew as best as possible, but it’s a difficult job and somebody’s got to do it.”
They hope to recruit 15 drivers next week at a job fair, but they are getting stiff competition from the private sector.
Rich Boudreau has been maintaining properties for more than 20 years.
“I love plowing snow; can’t get enough of it, good money,” Boudreau said.
He has 50 clients, and he’s not taking on any more.
“Too many contracts, you’re spread thin, you got people that don’t like paying at the end of it and people gripe that it’s not enough, then when you go and subcontract yourself to [a grocery store], you get paid three times; you don’t do it right, you lose money there. It’s a rat race,” Boudreau said.
That’s the problem for local governments, and the city, if Sanford hopes to please new hires who are drivers.
“We have a really great benefits package and a really nice working environment,” Hill said.