Sanitation workers complain they’re understaffed, underpaid

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DeKalb County sanitation workers told commissioners June 24 that they are understaffed, underpaid and overworked.

Tracy Brown, a sanitation worker and member of a newly formed union for DeKalb County sanitation workers, said he and his colleagues are “severely” understaffed.

“We just don’t understand where the money is going,” Brown said.

Additionally, sanitation employees said there is a high turnover rate due to the current working conditions.

Recently, the county implemented a new pilot program for certain areas of the county that limits trash pickup to once a week. Some sanitation workers said this has caused areas to be overflowing with trash and there isn’t enough staff to pick it up.

“People are leaving all the time now because of the working conditions. One of you commissioners, please—we need to know what’s going on [with] our department, which is a so-called revenue-generating department and one of the most important departments,” one worker said.

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May said with any pilot program there are pros and cons.

“It’s a pilot program. We’ve taken it in a small section of our county…to see what our options [are] to move forward,” May said.

May said that, at the end of the program, both residents and county employees will be surveyed and asked for their input regarding the program.

“I’ll be talking to our employees to really listen to them even more, and, at the end of this, we will be taking the surveys internally and externally,” May said. “This pilot program is meant to look at some internal things and some external things as well—to look at what the general public is saying about the opportunity to look at a different model of service.”

DeKalb County residents have not received a rate increase for sanitation services since 2006, county officials said.

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One thought on “Sanitation workers complain they’re understaffed, underpaid

  • July 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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    This is a multifaceted issue. I am glad the sanitation workers are organizing for improved working conditions. Having a motivated and satisfied workforce is vitally important. However, another important piece that is missing, is the lack of recycling among DeKalb County residents and businesses. We put too much in the landfills! Every business, school, church in DeKalb should have a mandatory recycling program. I have always thought the current waste management arrangement in DeKalb County was – well – bonkers. Why not simplify trash pickup by picking up trash and recycling ONE DAY A WEEK – on the same day? Instead of asking homeowners to sort recycling materials, provide one large bin that will accommodate all recycled materials and sort them out by trained people at the recycling center. Would this not help our environment, our households and sanitation workers?

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