Bills Bring Basic Workplace Protections to Sanitation Workers


Councilman Antonio Reynoso speaks on legislation he introduced that seeks to eliminate sham unions and protect sanitation workers’ rights. Photo Credit: Emil Cohen

On January 29, Council Member Antonio Reynoso joined fellow New York City Council colleagues, Teamsters Local 813, and advocacy organizations at City Hall to call attention to the prevalence of sham unions in the private carting industry and the labor violations they subject workers to. For years, elected officials, unions, sanitation workers, and community organizations have been working to expose the corrupt and heinous practices that run rampant in the private carting industry.

The private sanitation industry subjects workers to grueling, and at times, life-threatening work. It has come to these advocates attention that the unions that are supposed to protect these workers’ rights are found to be extensions the company’s ownership. To maximize profits, these sham unions and company owners prevent workers from ever securing good benefits and worker protections.

Council Member Antonio Reynoso added, “The legislation that I have introduced would authorize [the Business Integrity Commission] BIC to oversee and investigate union officers associated with the private sanitation industry. The agency’s increased oversight will enable us to root out sham unions and ensure that workers have the ability to join legitimate unions with workers’ rights and best interests in mind.”

This bill would close a loophole in the agency’s authority and enable the agency to root out organized crime from the industry. Another bill introduced by Council Member Antonio Reynoso would codify BIC’s mandate to report labor and/or wage violations that violate city, state, or federal labor or employment law.

“This is a time of reckoning for an industry that routinely mistreats and exploits its workers. A living wage, good benefits, and fair work conditions are non-negotiable and that also applies to the carting industry,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I applaud Council Member Antonio Reynoso for his leadership on this issue and am proud to join my colleagues in fighting for just workplace protections.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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