MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wednesday morning, dozens of sanitation workers at Republic Services walked off the job in Memphis and Millington to protest the death of their co-workers and unfair labor practices.
On March 30, Memphis Police responded to a pedestrian struck at the Shelby County Landfill in the 5400 block of Malone Road. A female was pronounced dead on the scene.
A sign posted at the site shows that it is operated by Republic Services.
“It’s almost unbelievable that Republic Services would demand workers surrender their safety bonus just days after a worker was killed at the Landfill,” Said James Jones, President of Teamsters Local 667, a labor union.
Corey Hayes of Teamstart Local 667 said workers witnessed one of their employees get crushed by a vehicle. “These guys are in mourning.”
Union representatives say about 80 employees are currently taking part in the strike. He says they walked out on the job around 2 a.m., and they plan on striking until their demands are met.
Jones says some of the concerns relate to truck conditions, needle exposure, and respect. They’ve been pushing for better safety measures for years, and they have no plans to stop. “We’re at the negotiating table, and we’re demanding better wages, of course, but for whatever reason, they think that we should give up our safety bonus.”
WREG reached out to Republic Services for comment. In a statement, they said their goal was to reach an agreement that increases employees’ pay and that the safety of their employees is a top priority.
“Safety has been and will always be our number one priority. The union is referencing the recent tragic loss of a company manager at the South Shelby Landfill who was fatally injured by a third-party truck. We are devastated about the passing of our colleague,” the company said in part.
Republic Services also said after the employee’s death, they discussed the incident and ways to stay safe with employees and had several discussions with local team members.
They also said they are implementing contingency plans that “will enable us to continue to provide the high level of service that our customers expect.”