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Harrel Barnes testifies before a select panel about current working conditions Saturday afternoon at South Greenville Recreation Center. (Scott Davis/The Daily Reflector)
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Harrel Barnes testifies before a select panel about current working conditions Saturday afternoon at South Greenville Recreation Center. (Scott Davis/The Daily Reflector)

Panel hears from sanitation workers

By Michael Abramowitz

The Daily Reflector

18 Comments | Leave a Comment


A group of Greenville sanitation workers presented examples Saturday of disrespectful treatment and unfair conditions they say led to a Nov. 9 work stoppage.

“We are tired,” said eight-year Public Works Department employee Harold Barnes before an assembled panel of labor supporters, a clergyman and one City Council member at South Greenville Recreation Center.


“On (Nov. 9), we were handed a paper saying what we must do (to properly report for work) without being given an opportunity to have a voice about what sanitation (division) puts before us,” Barnes said.

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Comments

Private versus Government

Private worker keepps coming in to work late. They are writen up and in most cases, comes the 3rd or 4th time late, you get fired. Governmnet worker keeps coming in late, they are told, "You really need to TRY and get to work on time". Pretty much how it works.

Government to blame?

People wonder WHY governments are in such "trouble"? This is a perfect example of why. I could NEVER be a City Mayor. Why? Because I would simply say, "You took the job KNOWING what the pay, hours, job REQUIRED and you SIGNED a contract stating this". If you are not happy, then please leave because we have MANY more people who will take your job." GOVERNMENTS have made it almost IMPOSSIBLE to fire anyone and this is a CLASSIC example of this. So the city only has ITSELF to blame for this "mess". My Goodness, what have we come to when people can COMPLAIN about having to do the job they were hired to do. Once again the NAACP will make this about race, when it has NOTHING to do with race. I has to do with people NOT wanting to do their job!! If they were mostly white workers, the NAACP would be no where to be found. If you want race relations to take two step backwards, call in the NAACP.

AndrewRayGorman wrote:

"Also, it would cause even more economic stratification between workers and these new "bosses"." 1: So you're admitting right here that these employees are treated better by the city than if they had to work for a private company. How much better do they want it on the backs of the city taxpayers? 2: You're assuming that a private contractor would even hire the city employees to do the job. Huge assumption. 3: These city employees are laborers. They are paid more than any laborers in any other job. This you can believe... There are plenty of unemployed people out there that would love to do this job for $10 an hour. 4: It doesn't matter that these employees can't afford a new Cadillac and live in a McMansion. They are unskilled, uneducated laborers. They should be paid according to the value of the service that they provide as set by society. And society doesn't place a high value on trash men.

I am sick of hearing about

I am sick of hearing about the sanitation department crying! They work 7am to 3:30 pm but they claim they don't take lunch so they get off at 3pm.....ride by Parkers or Peaden's or B's or the chinese buffet by the Kmart. I also KNOW that the majority of the sanitation department is in the assembly room at Public works by 1 or 2pm playing cards or checkers or sleeping. A recent pay study showed they are paid more than private industry santitation workers plus they have benefits........the policy of being on time is applied to All employees regaurdless of race, gender or hair color for that matter.....I have an idea, be thankful for the job you have guys! I think it terrible that we have given this much attention to childish BS! You don't like your job....find a better one....go to school and get educated to obtain a better job. Otherwise keep your nose down, do your job and try to advance yourself. And to the city council members that support this crap......find something important to do with your time...after all it is taxpayer money paying for it!

I Have A Solution

Hey City of Greenville. Waste Industries is ready when you are. Contract annually with none of this drama.

I love it, it's a great

I love it, it's a great idea.....let's see how they like the unemployment line

The "Living Wage" Standard

"Other workplace grievances included a median wage of $13.68 per hour for sanitation workers, with at least half earning below that amount, according to panelist Alexandra F. Sirota, director of the budget and tax center for the N.C. Justice Center. “These workers earn well below the living wage standard. They cannot make ends meet,” Sirota said." How exactly do you come up with this figure? How many other employees are below this standard? Is there anyone that wouldn't enjoy more pay? Better working conditions? Better beneifts? I'm glad only 6 sanitation workers allowed themselves to be exploited by these media seeking jackals like Barber, Henderson, and Sirota.

Response to comments

I was at this meeting of 80 plus people and can address some of the comments here. First, regarding the two comments who made comments on the issue of reporting in on time. What caused the walkout a few months back was the proposed solution to a couple of workers not reporting on time. This solution was made with no consultation with these men, and it required them to basically rat out their fellow workers if they did not arrive on time. This creates a hostile working environment and there are better solutions to ensure people come in on time. Secondly, regarding those who think the workers should be grateful and not complain, these men are living below the living wage line and barely scrape by to support their families. This was what the NC Justice Center spent some time talking about on their powerpoint, and even had pamphlets handed out that contained data analysis concerning this. Also, regarding their "benefits", some workers have been denied workers compensation from health issues arising from working on the job. This is made worse by management refusing workers the use of equipment that would better assist them. Thirdly, there is indeed an issue of race, and if you can't see it, you have to be blind. Just a few years ago the entire police department had been cleansed of black police officers. So it isn't a stretch to think that issues of race have been in the other sectors of government. Don't get me wrong, I don't think racism is the root cause, but rather the economic conditions which alienates and exploits the working class. Issues regarding race are created from this economic stratification, and are the primary reason our prison system has a majority population of blacks, even though they are a minority overall in the US population. Lastly, privatization is a horrible idea. With public trash pickup the citizens of the city have at least a say in this service. Also, it would cause even more economic stratification between workers and these new "bosses". Unions fight for the right of people to have a democratic workplace and that they enjoy the fruits of their labor (that 2nd bit there is actually in the NC Constitution, something I learned at this hearing). One worker told of the basic list of things the workers would like: better wages, better working conditions, better equipment, and better workers compensation.

What?

The more they talk, the more it becomes clear this is not an injustice or racial issue, but rather an opportunity for all the "grand standers" to create another "racial" issue when one does not exist. A huge issue and only 80 people show up? I guess most agree that $28,000 plus benefits as a median salary for sanitation workers is not all that bad.

98% Black is racist...hire some other races..

First, not reporting to work on time at any job will get you fired. Secondly, get more education if you don't like being at the bottom of the ladder. Thirdly, Don't blame Whites for all Black's problems . Lastly, privatization is a great idea with more and more citizens desiring the change. Unions bosses fight for the right of people to have socialism in the workplace and that they enjoy the fruits of their labor is Marxism. I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for millions of men and women who do absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune in welfare benefits while those who work all the days of their lives pay for it

The reason the majority

The reason the majority population in prison is blacks is because they commit the majority of the crimes. Get your head out of the sand and face reality. Too many black single mothers with too many children they can't support and how about the absent black fathers that really don't give a damn about their children. The culture of blaming everyone else but yourselves for your problems has got to stop before any progress can be made.

"Other workplace grievances

"Other workplace grievances included a median wage of $13.68 per hour for sanitation workers, with at least half earning below that amount, according to panelist Alexandra F. Sirota, director of the budget and tax center for the N.C. Justice Center." I'm guessing that Ms. Sirota does not know the definition of 'median.' If half earn below that amount, there is another half that earns above that amount. At $13.68 per hour, the annual salary would be approx. $28,454. When my wife graduated college (Education major), she went to work as a high school science teacher making $21-22,000 per year. I used to work for a company and a lot of employees were disgruntled. One of the Corp VPs showed up for a meeting and told the group "that he didn't like to see unhappy workers. So, if you're unhappy please quit; there will be hundreds lined tomorrow applying for your job". Guess what, no one quit.

Reporting to work on time?

Reporting to work on time? What a novel idea. Why didn't someone think of this a long time ago? I guess this type of work ethic is the white man's way of keeping the black man down. Give me a break. Where will the NAACP be when you're out of a job? I can tell you, they will be looking to shake down someone else for extortion money.

I feel our sanitation workers

I feel our sanitation workers do a good job and it is hard work. I have always found them to be courteous and helpful. Think it would be nice to have a publication of salaries and cost for benefits paid each employee in the Sanitation Dept. It would not be necessary to list names.

3 points

So here's my take: First - If the problem was caused by the Sanitation Division being 98 percent black, perhaps Mr. Dudley would agree we need to fire 2/3 of the workers and replace them with whites and hispanics. Then there would be no threat of racism, right? Something tells me he would not agree. Second - Being a Sanitation worker does not require an undergraduate degree, masters degree, certification, or licensing. So just do your job well and be glad you are not making minimum wage like many others around you. Third - The more the race card is played, the harder it is for true cases of injustice to be taken seriously.

Wow....

$28,500 average salary, 2 weeks of vacation minimum, 2 weeks sick leave, health care, 11 holidays a year, retirement plan, 401 K plan employer pays for & more. And they are complaining cause they have to punch a clock? Please.... City Council approves salary and benefits if they thought these employees were underpaid they are the ones that could have changed it. More Grand Standing by the Council. Mayor says it is not a Council issue but yet there they are.

B.S.

They got new time clocks because the workers are black? Please quit if you don't like working for the sanitation dept. Many people would be happy to take your posistion and not complain like little babies!

There's a simple

solution for the city. Privatize waste collection. Unions all over the nation are directly responsible for bankrupting or nearly bankrupting town after town, city after city.

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart