As children returned to school this week, Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker questioned Unity Disposal's use of temporary replacement workers during the ongoing strike, now in its’ second week. “Trash collection is a vital public service fraught with potential safety hazards,” said Hucker, whose district includes neighborhoods affected by the strike. “I am alarmed by reports that Unity’s replacement workers are not always wearing required protective gear like reflective safety vests and steel-tipped boots.” To support the striking trash haulers, call Montgomery County executive Ike Leggett 240-205-7176 and ask him to call on Unity Disposal to negotiate a fair contract.
Since the strike began on December 26, LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic Region says Unity Disposal “has resorted to hiring temporary replacement workers recruited from outside 7-11s, Home Depots, and other area locations” to work as “helpers” – the workers who ride on the vehicles and heave garbage and recycling into the back of the trucks.
“Some of these replacement workers appear to have been hired the same morning they were sent out on a garbage truck for the first time,” says LiUNA, which represents the workers. Sending newly hired helpers out on the trucks without comprehensive safety training, or without required safety equipment, would violate Unity Disposal’s contract with Montgomery County, according to the union, which has also documented a number of safety violations by temporary replacement workers.
“While getting the trash picked up on time should always be our goal,” added Hucker, “it should never come at the expense of safety. If corners are being cut on training or safety during the strike, this is an issue that must be addressed immediately.”