Drivers behind the wheel of private garbage trucks are so overworked they can barely keep their eyes open near the ends of their shifts — which usually happen when kids are heading off to school, so parents better keep a sharp eye out, a union representative for workers at Action Carting warned on Brooklyn Paper Radio.
“If you’re taking your kids to school in the morning, I would pay attention to green garbage trucks, because you have a fleet of falling-asleep drivers come seven o’clock,” Teamsters union rep Allen Henry told hosts Vince DiMiceli and Anthony Rotunno.
Henry, who joined Tuesday’s show with his namesake son (an Action Carting “helper” who doesn’t drive but picks up the garbage while riding on the back of the company’s trucks), was following up on the Paper’s historic “Blind Spots” coverage that focuses on what the mayor’s so-called “Vision Zero” plan misses.
That coverage was ratcheted up on Monday in the wake of the deaths of two children in Park Slope, who were hit by a Staten Island driver while crossing a neighborhood street.
The hosts pointed out that while no one ever wants to hit and kill another person with their car, it is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to make sure they don’t kill anyone.
So DiMiceli wondered why he’s frequently seen private-sanitation trucks going the wrong way down one-way streets and blowing red lights during his late-night rides home.
“I have to admit, I sometimes did those things when I was driving the truck,” said the older Henry, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. “I tried to limit it. But you if you went back to management and said you didn’t make your last 14 stops because your time was up, you wouldn’t have a job very long.”
That’s why Henry claimed the union is trying to fight back, ensuring drivers no longer work shifts as long as 14 hours, six days a week.
“We are demanding change from management,” Henry said. “Because no law is going to be passed in the next six months to limit our hours.”
Henry and his son added that bosses had no problems listening to complaints from drivers about tough working conditions, they just don’t do anything about it.
“They’ll tell you what to do if you feel dizzy,” the younger Henry said. “But that doesn’t solve what got you dizzy in the first place — the long hours.”
Henry claimed the only way to solve the problem would be to implement the mayor’s zoned-hauling bill, which would divide the city into regions and limit the area a company could cover.
“With a zoning system, you cut the truck miles down dramatically, the drivers work less hours,” he said.
Brooklyn Paper Radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook