Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn rides along with sanitation workers Thursday to learn first hand about the work.
His ride was scheduled before this week’s new warning from sanitation officials about a new round of collection delays from a shortage of workers but following past service complaints from residents.
Mendelsohn said he gained new insight into the complications of garbage collection, but remains anxious to see stronger management.
He spent the morning riding with city employee Marlon Hardin who operates an automatic arm collection truck.
Mendelsohn said he learned about the difficulty of grabbing carts that stayed too close to other objects by residents.
“Now I know why so many people called and told me and they had their garbage missed. Well, it missed because they couldn’t find it,” Mendelsohn said.
The latest report from sanitation managers is that the most missed collections are recycling pick-ups because of a shortage of temporary staff working on the back of these trucks.
These temporary contract workers do not receive city health insurance that city employees like Marlon Hardin get.
“We get benefits, pensions, 401k. So those are definitely big benefits as well, yes,” Hardin said.
From the COVID-19 pandemic, acting Sanitation Director Timothy Oliver said it was difficult to keep enough temporary workers on the job.
“These are important jobs, but with the economy coming out of the pandemic, we’re competing against everyone, the private sector, and other government entities. We’re competing against everyone to get those people hired and back to work. , “Oliver tells you.
A new city contract to provide temporary workers begins in August with wages rising to about $ 15 an hour from the $ 12.38 temporary workers currently receive.
Driver Hardin said temporary workers have a hard job, especially in bad weather.
Hardin said: “These guys are the pulse of these trucks, so they do a wonderful job for what they do.”
On Thursday Mendelsohn said that 12 temporary workers who were expected to work on sanitation trucks did not appear. This six city trucks that were not employed, likely causing new delays.
Some people suggest that better paid and trained workers in the city may be needed to provide services Dallas residents expect.
“It’s something I think we need to look at. What I’ve heard from staff is there is a liability issue and they’re trying to discharge that responsibility,” Mendelsohn said.
After his ride, Mendelsohn praised the work of city employee Marlon Hardin. He was on the same road for 3 years.
“Because he’s been at work for a while, he doesn’t look at the map. He knows every go, every turn where he’s going. And even as the driver of an automatic truck, there’s a physical element to it. He was always in and out, put tags on boxes in the wrong place, “he said. “The truck is loud. It is very hilly. You really shake at it, so I think I might call it a tough working condition. “
The Dallas Sanitation Department has been without a director for more than a year. Mendelsohn suggests he may be partly to blame for management issues. A new director just got hired from Sacramento, California. It begins July 14t.
“And I think it’s a balance of trying to be customer-focused, which clearly Marlon is, along with being safe,” Mendelsohn said.
Acting Director Timothy Oliver will continue with the Sanitation Department as an assistant to the new director according to a press release from City Manager TC Broadnax on hiring the new director.
Broadnax praised Oliver’s efforts as interim leader.