City Hall

Talking Trash as City Sanitation Workers Rally Saturday to Demand a "Living Wage"

Back in early June, Andrea liveblogged a council committee meeting during which there was a brief discussion of paying sanitation workers a "living wage" of $8.88 per hour, which would up residential fees by some 30 cents a billing cycle. From the liveblog: "'I disagree that $8.88 is a living wage in Dallas,' says Angela Hunt, who thinks it's probably more like $11 or $13 per hour if you've got a family." Hunt, if you'll recall, did a ridelong with sanitation workers back in '08 and noted the disparity in pay: Drivers, who are city employees, make between $11 and $18, while the guys who hop on and off the trucks are day laborers making far less.

Which brings us to Saturday, when about 100 members of United Labor Unions Local 100 met and marched in South Dallas to protest sanitation workers' pay. The News has a brief video of the march, but People's World provides a lengthy recap of the meeting -- and a sneak peek at what, just maybe, is to come. An excerpt:

A number of the workers talked about their poor pay, lack of any benefits, and the dangers of trash hauling. Erick Jones said that the company does everything possible to divide the workers and circumvent all efforts to organize. "When they think we're going to have a meeting, they schedule mandatory overtime," he told the crowd. Another worker talked about a painful virus he had contracted. When he was diagnosed at the County Hospital, the doctors surmised immediately that he was a Dallas trash hauler, because they are the only ones at risk of contracting the virus.

The unionists did not reveal their tactics, except to say that they are gathering support and momentum to confront the power structure. Several of the activists suggested ways to bring attention to the movement. One of them suggested that they gather forces to attend the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, where they would pray for forgiveness for the sins of Mayor Leppert, who is on the church's board of deacons. First Baptist is historically the very center of white people's power in Dallas, and is known throughout the South for the worst in reactionary ideology.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky