While most students snoozed in the comfort of their heated dorms early Wednesday morning, an army of Yale facilities workers and subcontracted laborers descended on the campus to clear the fallen snow.
For these workers, Wednesday’s storm was routine work: They arrived with their equipment —plows, shovels and ice melting pellets — as the first white flakes began to drift from the sky.
Gardeners Paul McCarthy and Warren Sauer, who were among the University’s three dozen ground crew employees removing snow on central campus and Science Hill, came to work at 6 a.m. Wednesday, their usual arrival time. About 70 Yale ground crew employees in all oversee the clearing of snow across the entire Yale campus, McCarthy said.
Both McCarthy and Sauer wore their blue uniform jackets and thick boots Wednesday, ready for a full day’s work. The two, both permanent Yale employees, work primarily with the snow removal machinery; subcontracted laborers then do manual clean-up with shovels.
“Yale’s good with equipment,” said McCarthy, pointing to his and Sauer’s John Deere GM 54 snow plow, which was loaded with shovels and even a fire extinguisher.
But many residential colleges do not allow machinery into their courtyards, McCarthy said. For instance, the soapstone of Branford College cannot handle snow plows like the bluestone of Old Campus, he said.
Cousins Gabriel and Froglan Pérez, who are temporary laborers brought in by a contracting company to supplement Yale employees in clearing snow, donned bright orange vests as they shoveled snow from the walkways of the Jonathan Edwards College courtyard around 7 a.m..
For the Pérez cousins, snow removing jobs come only as often as the snow falls. Gabriel Pérez said the cousins have been offering their services to the Branford, Conn.-based ACA Landscaping since last year, making themselves available every time snow needs to be shoveled. Gabriel said they get paid $12 to $13 per hour.
The Pérez cousins came to the United States from Mexico in the late 1990s, they said, and live in the same New Haven apartment. The two usually work construction, they said, mostly doing roof repairs.
Their supervisor at ACA Landscaping, Vince Cacace, declined several requests for comment for this article.
Sauer said facilities management delegates specific task between Yale grounds crew and subcontracted labors well, so they do not get in each other’s way.
Associate Vice President for Facilities John Bollier declined to comment.
Indeed, though McCarthy’s and Sauer’s faces tinged with pink as they worked on Old Campus, they said it was just another snowy day — nothing like the blizzard of 1978, the last time Yale canceled classes, McCarthy said laughingly. They will continue clearing snow as long as it falls, and do so with gusto.
“You’re doing your job, but you’re also kinda groovin,’” Sauer said.