Answer: There is No Good Reason
Some of New York’s Strongest, as the sanitation department has dubbed their workers, leave me scratching my head sometimes.
That is why I am going to call out this group of “New York’s Laziest” as there is a subset of sanitation workers who demonstrate their slothful ways with a complete disregard for traffic laws and public safety on a daily basis. I’m not talking about just backing up traffic on narrow streets by not fully pulling over and instead parking their trucks diagonally when they load garbage. I’m talking about something that is egregious.
Now when you can do something the easy way or the hard way, almost always you should choose the easy way, right?
On a busy crosstown block in Manhattan where there is two-way traffic; a school crossing zone; ( the school is one block away!) a major bus route and lots of vehicles trying to navigate the streets in rush hour, these workers have consistently demonstrated their disdain for traffic laws and public safety. I will let these photos taken over the course of a year basically describe the situation. (click photos to enlarge)
Oncoming traffic has to go over the double yellow line to get around these trucks.
School buses filled with children and city buses must dodge cars, taxis, pedestrians (jaywalking) and other oncoming vehicles because these workers are too indolent to pull adjacent to the curb or a parked vehicle and walk a whole extra eight to ten feet to load their truck or trucks. They also recklessly drive their trucks into oncoming traffic to get to the next pick-up location quickly.
I have spoken to the Department of Sanitation. Here are the rules. They are not permitted to block a lane of traffic let alone two lanes, when it is avoidable and they are never to back in with the front of the truck sticking out into oncoming traffic as seen in these photos.
So much for the rules.
I have politely asked the drivers of the trucks not to do this and they have ignored me.
When they block the driveway of a building garage they seem to cherish the fact that they are making people late by backing up traffic trying to leave or enter a garage. The pick-ups can last up to 15 minutes. Traffic quickly backs up.
The real issue here is that it would be extra work for them to carry the trash that extra few feet each time and this would add time to all their pick-ups. And yes, they would have to work harder and not do things the easy way.
I have called 311 and the sanitation department and complained and nothing has ever been done. I have pointed this situation out to the sanitation inspectors in the street while this was occurring and the response is always “it’s not my job,” or “I’ll talk to them.” The sanitation inspectors job it seems is to levy fines to buildings improperly disposing of garbage, not tell the operators of the truck to obey the law. The police and traffic agents I have asked to intercede have also not done anything.
No, apparently it’s not anyone’s job until someone is seriously hurt or killed in an avoidable accident.
A sanitation workers job is not an easy one. They are lifting heavy objects in extreme weather conditions. They have to deal with dangerous items that should not have been discarded through regular trash pick-ups. The garbage smells. There are the rats and needles and other occupational hazards. Occasionally, they come across things that are incredibly disgusting.
But that is their job. It is what they signed on for. No one is forcing them to do it. They are compensated as follows:
The current starting salary of a Sanitation Worker is $31,200 per year. The current labor agreement provides for periodic increases to a maximum of $67,141 after 5 1/2 years. In addition to the basic annual wages, Sanitation Workers may also earn differential payments based on their specific assignment and overtime.”
And how. With overtime many sanitation workers can make six figures and over.
Some of the workers do their job properly. But these guys pictured above act with impunity and seem above the law. I have never seen a garbage truck ticketed. Make them responsible for their driving behavior. They should be personally ticketed.
I know the city is very busy trying to crack down on other personal behavior, like salt intake and pushing soda taxes; proposing outrageous congestion pricing schemes, or putting tolls on every “free” bridge and adding unnecessary bicycle lanes that neighborhoods don’t want and other misguided proposals and initiatives.
I have close up pictures of these workers, trucks with dates and times these infractions were incurred.
Now will anyone connected to the city do anything about it? I’ll send anyone affiliated with the proper city department who wants to see them the pictures that are not shown on the web site. (Are you reading: John Doherty, Sanitation Commissioner; Janette Sadik-Kahn, DOT Commissioner; Raymond Kelly, NYPD Commissioner or Mayor Michael Bloomberg.)
Or, will they all say, “It’s not my job.”
After 5 years this is the only story that comments are closed on.
Why? Way too much vitriol. Also because almost no one commenting understood the main point of the story – that garbage trucks should not block THREE LANES and affect ONCOMING traffic (buses, cars, trucks and taxis) which cannot see around a garbage truck sticking out across the street, so they can load their trucks. This was not about attacking sanitation workers, it was attacking laziness.
When an oncoming vehicle has to cross over double yellow lines IN A SCHOOL ZONE that is dangerous plain and simple.
When a child gets killed (and it will happen eventually even with Mayor De Blassio’s ZERO VISION plan (pun intended) there will be a public outcry. What could have been done to prevent this? The answer is simply this – Garbagemen should under no circumstances be allowed to load their trucks like this:
If you disagree – too bad. I get the final word.