In one of the most dangerous industries in the country, workers in New York City toil without the protections of true worker representation. The majority of private company commercial trash haulers do not receive safety equipment or training and are forced to work unpaid overtime to keep their jobs. Safety is compromised to cut time off of already long routes. This is the world of private commercial trash haulers in New York City.
New York City’s trash collection is split between residential and commercial services, and working conditions, wages, and benefits couldn’t be more different between the two. Public residential sanitation workers have a living wage, benefits and time off.
Private garbage operators take advantage of their employees, many who would have a hard time receiving employment elsewhere, in dangerous low-paying jobs with an unsafe amount of hours worked. Investigative reporter Kiera Feldman chronicles this world in her ProPublica.
The End Of Collective Bargaining
After vast changes in the 1990s, the Laborers and the Teamsters, both AFL-CIO affiliated, were eliminated from having a presence in the private garbage collection industry. Although there are some union replacements, it is clear that the employers come before the employees.
Crowding In The Industry
Combined with the end of collective bargaining, the sheer number of private providers of business trash hauling makes the industry overly competitive. Multiple trash hauling providers crowd the streets, negatively impacting public safety and air quality.
Reform Is Possible
There have been many appeals for reform of commercial garbage hauling, including zoning of commercial areas, which hopefully will come to fruition in the near future. Exclusive operation contracts for commercial zones will help to decrease traffic and emissions and bring fair labor practices to the hard working private commercial trash haulers in the city.