Transportation

Job is Family for Sanitation Workers

April 21, 2016
By Silver Krieger 

Loraynne Dummett

New York, NY  For Lorayanne Dummett and Brian Tullo of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Local 831, being a worker on the job feels like being part of one big family.  With the help of the union and fellow workers, they’ve found a place, where, as Tullo says, “You come to this job to take care of your family and this job in turn helps you take care of your family.”  In fact, he has cousins and an uncle who are also sanitation workers.  For them, the job is a place where they can grow, while feeling secure.

Dummett started in 2004 as a Sanitation Enforcement Agent and became a Sanitation Worker in 2008, while Tullo began in 2001 as a Sanitation Worker.  He was laid off for five and a half months in June of 2003, but was back on the job in November of the same year.  The union did a great job, he said, first organizing a rally at City Hall, which got a first wave of re-hiring to happen, and then doing a study to show that it cost the city more in overtime than it would to bring back city workers, which prompted a complete rehiring.

There are numerous opportunities within the field.  As a Sanitation Enforcement Agent, Dummett primarily checked complaints and issued summonses, as well as investigated compliance.  After that, she then saw the opportunity to be a Sanitation Worker, which she said she prefers.  Tullo says he is happy where he is.  He has become a shop steward, where he is hands on between management and the work force, finding ways to work together.Although there are recognized dangers in the job, both take it in stride.  Dummett says, “I broke two fingers, and damaged my knee pretty badly.  Everything is healed now.  Coming in, you know it’s a very physical job.  You learn that to work safely is the most important thing; you take it and keep going, as sometimes things are unavoidable.  Echoes Tullo, “The top thing is to work safely.  I’ve had nothing serious, although my legs do bear some scars!”  He added, “Workers also get hit by cars.”  Not only that, but frustration from drivers trying to get around the truck can sometimes escalate.  “You try to be as courteous as possible, and tell them you’ll be moving as soon as possible.  Another thing you can do is go around the block to let them get by if you have to do that to avoid a situation.”  The person who partners with them on their truck becomes like family, they both say, as you come to rely on them from everything to watching out for oncoming cars to using the second brake that is in the trucks if necessary.

Tullo and Dummett of USA

Although there are recognized dangers in the job, both take it in stride.  Dummett says, “I broke two fingers, and damaged my knee pretty badly.  Everything is healed now.  Coming in, you know it’s a very physical job.  You learn that to work safely is the most important thing; you take it and keep going, as sometimes things are unavoidable.  Echoes Tullo, “The top thing is to work safely.  I’ve had nothing serious, although my legs do bear some scars!”  He added, “Workers also get hit by cars.”  Not only that, but frustration from drivers trying to get around the truck can sometimes escalate.  “You try to be as courteous as possible, and tell them you’ll be moving as soon as possible.  Another thing you can do is go around the block to let them get by if you have to do that to avoid a situation.”  The person who partners with them on their truck becomes like family, they both say, as you come to rely on them from
everything to watching out for oncoming cars to using the second brake that is in the trucks if necessary.

As in any family, issues arise.  For Dummett, being a woman on the job has its challenges.  “I grew up as a tomboy, so that made it 100% easier for me, in that I never really considered that I was coming on to a job that was predominately male. At first it was a little intimidating, however.  Most places I go I am the only female. A lot of the guys are extremely helpful and receptive. You do get a few that are not necessarily pleased to see a woman they have to partner up with. I surprise them with my capabilities that I do the job as well as I do. It’s like being in a fraternity. I feel like I have extra brothers. They are also very protective.  There’s a lot of camaraderie.  Socially – we talk about politics, sports, everything not just hair and nails,” she says, laughing.  It helps that I grew up with a family that was mostly male, so all the practical jokes, ribbing – I ‘m used to it. It makes the day go by quickly! Sometimes I find myself defending  a whole gender in conversations [when men ask] why do women act a certain way, but

Tullo and Dummett both stress how important the union has been for them.  Says Dummett, “We have the best union!” Tullo says, “We have such a great line of communication from the President to delegates to the shop stewards.  I can get word right away to the President, and he can get word to me about any issue that should arise.” Dummett says that in numerous instances, from needing time off because of a parent’s illness, to help in getting locks put into locker rooms for women’s safety, the union has been incredibly responsive.  Says Tullo, “the union makes sure it’s family first. generally it’s very lighthearted.  A lot of guys are very encouraging and that’s what made it easier. I wish there were more women on the job so they can see we can do this. People in the street will say, ‘Oh I didn’t know they let women do that!’  A guy on street said to my partner, who was driving while I was picking up the garbage, that he should let me drive!  I said to him – we make the same amount of money, we do the same work. There is a perception that women shouldn’t be doing this. I like breaking that stereotype. We’re all here to do a job and go home and take care of our families.”

Dummett started in 2004 as a Sanitation Enforcement Agent and became a Sanitation Worker in 2008, while Tullo began in 2001 as a Sanitation Worker.  He was laid off for five and a half months in June of 2003, but was back on the job in November of the same year.  The union did a great job, he said, first organizing a rally at City Hall, which got a first wave of re-hiring to happen, and then doing a study to show that it cost the city more in overtime than it would to bring back city workers, which prompted a complete rehiring.
Dummett started in 2004 as a Sanitation Enforcement Agent and became a Sanitation Worker in 2008, while Tullo began in 2001 as a Sanitation Worker.  He was laid off for five and a half months in June of 2003, but was back on the job in November of the same year.  The union did a great job, he said, first organizing a rally at City Hall, which got a first wave of re-hiring to happen, and then doing a study to show that it cost the city more in overtime than it would to bring back city workers, which prompted a complete rehiring.
 
April 20, 2016

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