Waste haulers provide incentives for drivers amidst widespread labor shortages

Waste haulers provide incentives for drivers amidst widespread labor shortages

Companies like Waste Management and J.P. Mascaro & Sons have started to offer hiring and referral bonuses to attract new drivers.

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While the demand for personal protective equipment is subsiding as more waste workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus, a new effect of the pandemic has taken center stage.

As reported by the Bucks County Courier Times, haulers in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are desperate for drivers with commercial driver’s licenses as industries across the nation face a detrimental labor shortage.

"The effects of the COVID pandemic continue to impact our business," said John Hambrose, Waste Management's regional communications manager. "Like many transportation companies, we are being challenged by a shortage of commercial truck drivers and technicians."

Houston-based Waste Management, with offices in Bristol and Telford, issued a statement June 25 apologizing to its customers in Bucks and Montgomery counties who have complained about trash and recyclable pickup issues.

J.P. Mascaro & Sons—based in Audubon, Pennsylvania—also has faced labor shortage issues that it is trying to address.

“This is sort of old news for us,” Frank Sau, spokesperson for J.P. Mascaro, told Waste Today. “We’ve been working with our municipal side of our business that we’re under contract with [to] come up with plans and prioritize what we’re collecting and when we’re collecting it.”

“For the most part, it hasn’t affected [our other] hauling divisions. It’s mostly been affecting our main depots in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.”

Sau told the Courier Times that since more people are working from home and many have done home improvements since the pandemic began, the company is seeing 20 to 30 percent more trash to be picked up as well as extra construction debris in residential neighborhoods.

To handle this influx, the company has created a priority plan for pickups. The company will first prioritize household trash; second, household recyclables; and third, yard waste.

DIFFERENT TACTICS

As municipalities begin to stiffen penalties for breaking ordinance regulating when trash can be collecting, many hauling companies have started to market hiring bonuses to build back their work forces.

Waste Management, for example, is offering up to $12,000 in educational benefits, $7,500 sign-on bonuses to experienced commercial drivers and technicians, plus $1,000 bonuses to current employees who refer someone successfully hired.

J.P. Mascaro is also offering hiring incentives for new employees, said Sau.

“The doors are wide open. We’ve been having job fairs, recruiting fairs, there is different bonuses and higher wages for drivers, helpers, you name it,” he told Waste Today. “We’re trying to be competitive with the other players in the business. We are probably Pennsylvania’s largest family-owned waste hauler, so we’ve been trying to attract drivers and helpers that way.”

According to Sau, many hauling companies recognize it takes a “special breed of employee” to handle these types of services, but admits that it’s a worthwhile industry to be in.

“It’s one of those industries where all of our customers depend on us,” he said. “It’s very stable; it’s not seasonal work. We offer all the major benefits that you wouldn’t get from other types of businesses, [such as] full health benefits, college reimbursement, vision, dental, you name it.”

In the meantime, Sau told Waste Today that J.P. Mascaro will continue doing its best to honor the company’s current municipal contracts given the circumstances.

“We’ve been in business for over 50 years, this is not our first rodeo,” he said. “We’re doing what our experience and our leaders have directed us to do, and we’re trying to get a handle on it.”

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job in comparison to other companies. I mean, we’re the ones that are out there until 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock at night and working on Saturdays and Sundays.”