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Red River

By Jim Sack

If any issue sinks the mayor’s re-election campaign it will be the ongoing debacle of garbage mis-collection. Most lucid Fort Wayners know the story of repeated and widespread missed garbage and recycling pickups.

So, first, how to solve the matter and, then, how to resolve the institutional efforts that contributed to the problem.

Money is the solution. I ask you a simple question: would you do the back-breaking, smelly, dangerous work of loading garbage in trucks for $8 an hour? I doubt you would last one hour, or even take the job in the first pace. The contract with Red River allows them to hire through a temp agency that my source tells me is paid $11 an hour for the workers’ labor, and takes a cut off the top.

The guys who ride behind the truck are paid $96 a day. Days seldom are nine to five, more often 10 to 13 hours of labor, my source, riding the back bumper, told me. Do the math: $96.00 a day divided by ten. A twelve-hour day yields $8 an hour before taxes. Where’s the incentive to show up on a sweltering July day, or when it’s minus five in good old Siberia-on-the-Maumee? Riding the back of a garbage truck is dangerous. People get hurt. Your nose fills with smells of decay all day long, you wear it home, it coats your nostrils, your home smells of it. You, try to load a fold-awa-bed into the truck. Simple answer – higher, much higher pay. Somebody in RR’s regional office is dining at the club tonight while their workers are being chased by rats.

Second, the contract seems to have been written without sufficient penalties to force RR to properly do the job. That’s the mayor’s responsibility. But, also be aware the fines assessed against RR are massive, including loss of reputation meaning what new city would sign on with them.

City council deserves a kick in the ass. They voted 9 – 0 in favor of RR. They didn’t do their job, simple as that. They are hypocrites to say otherwise. And the Republican candidate for mayor wants to make this look like it’s all the mayor’s fault when it isn’t. Lots of factors contribute to this mess, not just a few missing clauses in the contract. Barranda, Arp, Jehl and Dr. John failed in their due diligence. Didn’t they read the contract? Isn’t Councilman Barranda a lawyer?

First, it is an exploitative contract that pays $8 an hour for terribly hard work. Double the pay and RR will do a much better job. Secondly, ask Paddock and Freistroffer if they read the contract? Doubtful. Understanding the subtleties is probably beyond them, so point the boney finger at all nine councilmen. Then turn to the city’s law department and board of works and put them to ride a truck for a week at slave wages and see what changes.

$8 an hour. No benefits. Shit work. You try it. You are a cheap ass, too. We are not paying the full price for garbage collection.

The blame goes to the mayor, to Helton, to Haffner, to Gratz, to Gunawardena, to (especially) Barranda, Freistroffer, Paddock, Crawford, Hines, Arp, Ensley, Jehl and Didier. Then point the finger at the philosophy of lowest cost contracts and the Republican drive to pay slave wages to employees, and also to make this a campaign issue. Tim Smith could no more fix this than our council dwarfs.

Better pay is the start.




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2 Comments

jim sack said
Thank you, Scott. Seems the guys on council have all forgotten their role in vetting and, then, approving the contract. Sidebar: my dad worked at Magnavox in the 50s and 60s. Traffic manager.
Scott Howard said
You hit the nail on the head, again. When I was a teenager, a garbage man moved in next door. At first, my dad who had a middle class purchasing agent job with Magnavox, was skeptical. But Doug the neighbor soon became the best neighbor and friend my parents could have had. Doug worked hard and was paid a reasonable wage. He and his wife raised three daughters and a son on his wages. Garbage collecting should not be an entry level position that you have to leave to make a living. We need them as public servants, more than we need the politicians that aren't really doing their jobs.