Snowzilla: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Union Members Keeping DC Safe and Warm

Categories: Washington, D.C.

While much of the east coast was shut down thanks to winter storm Jonas, many AFGE members were working around the clock to keep their communities safe and warm.

From AFGE Local 1975 snow plow truck operators to EMS workers in Local 3721, housing employees at Local 2725, and Local 2741’s recreation center staff, AFGE members were on the job ensuring people were healthy and warm during one of the most historic snow storms of the century. 

When the District of Columbia declared a state of emergencyAFGE Local 1975 members from the D.C. Department of Transportation worked 12-hour shifts for five days straight. They’re responsible for overseeing logistics for the snow plow trucks and ensuring all essential employees have the proper rest, shelter, and food they need to complete their jobs during emergencies. 

All of the essential employees were placed in hotels throughout the city. Some even had to sleep on cots because many of the hotels in the area were full. One of the biggest challenges Lowery said was the access to food for many employees. Many of the local food stores were closed leaving employees with very few options. 

“AFGE members did an outstanding job during these trying times. We couldn’t have done this without the union,” said AFGE Local 1975 President Clifford Lowery. 

When the District government requested volunteers to work at city’s recreation centers during the storm, more than 20 AFGE Local 2741 members who work at the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation volunteered. 

“Assisting at the warming centers show a different side of labor. It shows community building, saves resources, and encourages civic responsibility,” said AFGE Local 2741 Chief Steward Dev Hillman.

They were tasked with operating a number of recreation facilities across the city that served as warming centers for homeless and displaced residents. 

“The warming centers are critical to the city's emergency response plan. It allows people that don't have anywhere to go during the storm to have shelter and heat,” Hillman said. 

Members at Local 2725 who work at the D.C. Housing Authority operated plow trucks in the city’s housing communities and made sure residents didn’t have to go without heat during the storm. 

Government workers nationwide worked tirelessly to help their communities survive winter storm Jonas, so tip your hat or give a quick thank you the next time you see your friendly community civil servant. 

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