Memphis, Millington sanitation workers stage walkout after bonus revoked following worker’s death

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 3:30 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Sanitation workers in Memphis and Millington staged a walkout Wednesday after they say their employer revoked their safety bonus days after a worker was killed at the Shelby County Landfill.

Over 80 drivers get up every day and serve the Mid-South by picking up everyone’s garbage. Many don’t know the job remains one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

Two weeks ago, one sanitation worker was crushed to death while working at the Shelby County Landfill, leaving many co-workers shocked and grieving.

The Shelby County Landfill is managed by the waste disposal and trash pickup company Republic Services.

Labor union Teamsters Local 667 tells Action News 5 that on Friday, the company tried to take away its workers’ safety bonus, something they’ve been receiving for the last 30 years.

(Action News 5)

Wednesday morning around 2 a.m., sanitation drivers in Memphis and Millington walked off the job, protesting continued unfair labor practices following the death of their co-worker.

Familiar signs began to fill the street in front of Republic Services in Memphis, leaving drivers feeling like they have been fighting the same fight for over a half of century.

“55 years ago, April the 4th to be exact, Martin Luther King felt the need to come here in Memphis because two sanitation workers got crushed behind a truck,” said Corey Hayes, one Local 667 spokesperson. “These guys witnessed that two weeks ago.”

The workers say they are not asking for a raise, nor are they asking for something that couldn’t be done.

They are simply asking for payment they’ve been receiving for decades and a right that should be given to every human being:

“Better safety conditions... these guys deal with medical waste, needles, asbestos, anything you can think of,” Hayes says.

Although workers are hoping this can be resolved quickly, they say they are willing to strike for however long it takes.

Hayes says, “Our goal is safety before profit.”

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