Report: Private Garbage Trucks are Garbage

June 22, 2016

Sean Campbell, Teamsters

By Silver Krieger

New York, NY – A new report by the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition and Transportation Alternatives on New York City’s private sanitation companies’ garbage trucks says they have an appalling record of poor maintenance.

The report — “Reckless Endangerment: How New York City’s Unsafe Commercial Garbage Trucks Put Us All at Risk,” — analyzed data from the U.S. DOT and found vehicle maintenance to be the top problem, resulting in 96% of all safety violations, among them faulty brakes, bad
tires, broken lights and unsafe cargo. “No worker should have to drive a truck that puts their life at risk and pedestrians’ lives at risk,” said Brigid Flaherty, Organizing Director of ALIGN, one of the members of the Transform Don’t Trash NYC Coalition. She spoke at a press conference on the steps of City Hall June 16, surrounded by sanitation workers, Council Members, and advocates.

Brigid Flaherty Leads Press Event

Violation records of the largest sanitation companies operating in New York City showed that 48% of garbage trucks were found to be unsafe due to maintenance problems, and were taken out of service as a result. Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, said, “The private waste haulers are not listening to their workers. They must clean up their act. These are trucks that should not be on the streets at all.”

Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813, added: “When [workers for these companies] complain, things don’t get fixed. For non-union workers, the choice is between driving an unsafe truck or going home with a pink slip.” 

Council Member I. Daneek Miller

Plinio Cruz, an organizer for Teamsters Local 813, who worked for twelve years for private sanitation companies, agreed: “When you complain, you are harassed, or they give you a bad helper. The key thing is more oversight and tougher penalties for companies that violate the law.”

According to the report, private sanitation trucks have 4,200 trucks in operation in NYC, and commercial fleets are three times more likely to have a crash that results in a pedestrian fatality than crashes involving passenger vehicles. In July 2015, a disabled woman was hit by a Crown Container truck and killed. 

Demonstrator Holds Truck Sign

Council Member I. Daneek Miller, a former MTA Bus Operator, said that because of the location of waste transfer stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the “unclean, unsafe,” trucks and companies.

The report’s policy recommendations are for the City to create exclusive commercial waste zones, strengthen regulations for safer vehicle design and improve transparency and accountability for companies following crashes. You can read the report and get more information at l

June 21, 2016

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