NYC sanitation Teamsters get new contract

Action Carting employees will get raises, more holidays and additional safety precautions.

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December 5, 2018
Edited by Theresa Cottom

Teamsters Local 813 has announced a new contract for sanitation workers who collect commercial trash in New York City for Action Carting, based in Teaneck, New Jersey. The contract comes after months of negotiations, and in a news release, Local 813 says it ensures good jobs for Teamsters members at Action Carting in a private sanitation industry under increasing scrutiny for dangerous conditions and low wages.

“We stood together and demanded a fair contract, and we got it,” says Jamel McLean, a sanitation worker at Action Carting. “For too many years, private sanitation workers in this city have been going backward with low wages and unsafe jobs. With a strong union like the Teamsters, you can get the fair treatment you deserve.”

Over the life of the four-year agreement, wages will rise 13 to 25 percent, with the greatest raises coming to the lowest-paid positions. Workers will also gain Martin Luther King Day and Veterans Day as paid holidays. The addition of MLK Day was particularly important to the workers, Local 813 says, as this year is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination while supporting striking Memphis sanitation workers.

“The vast majority of this industry’s workforce is black and Latino, and we know that we are part of a long history of sanitation workers fighting for racial and economic justice,” says Sean T. Campbell, the president of Teamsters Local 813. “I thank Action Carting for bargaining in good faith. This agreement is the next step toward raising standards in this industry.”

The contract will also reduce workers’ healthcare premiums and increase the company’s weekly contribution to their retirement. Workers will also receive additional safety equipment. The company and the union have also committed to work together to make a five-day work week available for the workers who want it. Mandatory six-day workweeks have become commonplace in New York City’s private sanitation industry, Local 813 says.

“These Teamsters won big wage increases, cheaper health care and new holidays. That’s not happening for most workers, union or not,” says George Miranda, the president of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents 120,000 workers in Downstate New York, including Local 813. “It’s a tribute to the solidarity of the Teamster members at Action [Carting] to fight for the contract they deserve.”

Recent media reports and government investigations have found abusive working conditions at many of New York City’s waste haulers, Local 813 says. In addition to six-day workweeks, many companies require shifts of more than 12 hours per night.

“The workers who collect our trash every night have been underpaid and mistreated for too long,” says New York City Council Sanitation Committee Chair Antonio Reynoso. “They and their families deserve fair wages and safe jobs. The Teamsters are leading the fight to get justice for private sanitation workers and I am proud to partner with them to reform and elevate working standards in this industry.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation recently announced a commercial waste zone policy that will transform the industry by mandating higher working standards and cutting truck traffic. The Teamsters are part of the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition, which is campaigning for the strongest commercial waste zone possible, with wage standards and one carter per zone.

“This contract is a big step, but we are committed to bringing good jobs to every private sanitation worker in this industry,” Campbell says. “I urge workers who want to fight for better jobs for themselves and their families to contact Teamsters Local 813.”