Charlotte Solid Waste Services workers express coronavirus concerns

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte workers within the Solid Waste Services Department want better working conditions during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Charlotte City Workers Union held a press conference on Tuesday morning to advocate for new and additional measures for concerned employees. 

City of Charlotte representatives say their Solid Waste Services workers who operate the automated collection trucks are working their weekly, regular schedules.

These workers are using their trucks to collect trash and recycling. City officials say the vehicles don’t require workers to get out of the truck, and, that only one person is inside of them.

The goal is to get additional drivers licensed and trained to operate the automated collection trucks, so that these drivers can operate on a modified schedule like other staff members in the department.

In response to the crisis, the city is shifting to modified scheduling to increase social distancing measures, which includes staggering shifts and one week on/one week on-call.

Union members are concerned that automated collection truck drivers are having to come in weekly and would like to see additional measures taken to protect workers from potential exposure at the workplace.

“We don’t have anybody monitoring them for their temperatures. We don’t have anybody wiping down those doors,” said Dominic Harris, a member of the union.  

Union representatives also want to see double Hazard Pay for city workers.

“Because if this work is serious enough for all of sanitization to come in and work in these conditions, then it’s serious enough to give us the pay that comes along with that,” Harris said.

Harris also said that personal protection supplies are limited by the department, stating that many employees are buying their own masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to use while on the job.

Mayor Vi Lyles and other city leaders are reviewing the requests made by union workers.

“Our solid waste, our police officers, our firefighters they’re showing up every day and I’m really appreciative that we have a good labor climate in our city,” Lyles said. “And we are putting together whatever methodologies that we have for working to try to implement that idea of maintaining employee safety first and foremost.

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