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Montgomery County, Md., Trash Company Hires Untrained Temps During Strike

As striking trash haulers in Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland head into the second week of their strike for fair wages and benefits, their employer, Unity Disposal, appears to have resorted to sending out temporary replacement workers as “helpers” without required safety equipment and perhaps without required safety training as well. Helpers are the workers who ride on the vehicles and heave garbage and recycling into the back of the trucks.

Support the striking trash haulers by calling Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett at 240-205-7176. 

When observed working routes on Monday, some of the replacement workers lacked required reflective safety vests and steel-toed boots. It also appears that some replacement workers were sent out on a garbage truck on the same morning they were hired, making it unlikely they received required training. Sending newly hired helpers out on the trucks without comprehensive safety training, or without adequate safety equipment, would constitute violations of Unity Disposal’s contract with Montgomery County.

"The job of a helper on a trash truck is inherently dangerous,” said striking helper Damion West. “We are the ones who ride on the back of the trucks, and we are literally the ones who do most of the heavy lifting, loading tons of trash into the backs of the trucks each day. We are dealing with heavy equipment, moving vehicles, often slippery surfaces, and hydraulic controls that can exert enormous force. If you go out there and attempt to do this job without adequate safety equipment and training, you are just asking for problems.”

Unity’s contract with Montgomery County stipulates the following:

“Collection personnel and supervisors must be fully trained to perform their duties in the execution of this Agreement. Newly hired employees must receive comprehensive operational and safety training prior to assuming duties…Collection personnel must be fully trained in the rules and procedures that govern all the collection services as provided herein.”

Striking Unity Disposal workers are calling on their employer to negotiate a fair contract. Strikers will be picketing at the Unity Disposal yard at:

14682 Old Gunpowder Road
 Laurel, MD 20707 

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