Trash piling on streets, sanitation workers’ union calls city council for help

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The president of AFSCME, a union that represents sanitation workers, said the lack of resources and workers are reasons why trash is piling up along the city.

“Administration has failed to sit down at the table with AFSCME and talk about these hard conversations about these constituents getting service every day,” said Adrian Rogers AFSCME President.

Rogers said the bulk week trash pickups that happen once every two weeks are destroying communities in underserved neighborhoods.

“Whitehaven, North Memphis, Orange Mound, Westwood, South Memphis... all of these different areas that are more of poverty areas of certain types, they are failing them,” Rogers said.

He said bulk week’s operating system, designed to use all of its resources and manpower in area A to area B for a week, never completes the entire trash routes every week, leaving areas neglected for several days.

It’s an issue Roger says he raised with all of the city council members two months ago, including Mayor Strickland, and he is still left with no answers on how to improve trash collection.

On top of not hitting all routes, Rogers says staffing shortages and equipment issues are a problem.

“We have over 60 trucks that are down and the men and women of solid waste are working hard,” said Rogers.

The City of Memphis issued a response to AFSCME President Adrian Rogers.

The letter addresses four main concerns raised during a meeting between AFSCME and city leaders back in May.

Among the concerns are one-day delays, bulk weeks, tablet usage by AFSCME workers and overtime pay.

City leaders said AFSCME wants to eliminate “one day delays” for holiday weeks, but did not offer a guarantee that trash would be collected during those weeks.

The city also claims AFSCME members are refusing to use tablets to track garbage collections, saying the refusal is an effort to force pay increases.

The city said pay raises for tablet usage were not addressed during recent labor negotiations and should not be an issue now.

Read the full letters from AFSCME and the City of Memphis here.

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