4WWL - May 8, 2020
NEW ORLEANS —
Sanitation workers aren't used to being on the back of pickup trucks.
But that's where some were Friday after they say they were fired for making four demands.
“We need them to provide us with the proper PPE -- to all the workers immediately and consistently and on a daily basis,” said Jonathan Edward, one of the workers who lost his job. “Provide us with our hazardous pay due to the pandemic of COVID-19.”
Workers, who said they were fired earlier in the week after voicing their concerns, are also asking for broken trucks to be fixed and an increased hourly rate of $15, up from $10.25.
And so they hopped onto the backs of trucks drove through Lakeview to pass out fliers with their demands and concerns.
Metro Disposal, which collects trash from properties in Orleans Parish north of Interstate 10, contracts with PeopleReady, which hires the workers.
PeopleReady on Friday did not respond to a request for comment from WWL-TV.
Meanwhile, Livingston Parish work-release inmates -- those convicted of non-violent crimes -- were on the Metro trucks Friday to collect garbage.
That didn’t sit well with some of the fired workers who said the work-release participants were doing the same work under the same conditions for even less money.
“Metro Services Group has long been an advocate of helping persons who had been incarcerated return to society in a meaningful and productive way,” a statement from the company read in part. “Metro makes no apologies for this policy as a core element of our commitment to being good corporate citizens.
Workers like Harold Peters said they’re ready to return to their routes if everyone can reach an agreement.
“We're out here. We're doing our job. We take pride in our work,” Peters said. “Actually, we can't wait to get back to work. We just want to be compensated.”
He said the demands “are probably actually owed to us.”
“So we’re trying to meet them halfway and at least make some progress,” Peters said.