Trash piles up at Flatbush Gardens as lockout drags on

Mountains of trash have been piling up at the curbside at Flatbush Gardens, where management locked out unionized maintenance workers on Nov. 29, hiring temporary workers to do their jobs.

The problem is twofold. For one thing, city Sanitation workers — being unionized — cannot cross a picket line without an order from the Department of Health, according to Kathy Dawkins, a spokeswoman for the Sanitation Department.

In addition, the temporary workers are not following protocol. They are taking trash from inside the buildings directly to the curb, said tenant Yolanda Castellano, instead of storing it in bins till the evening before pickup, as the regular workers do.

But it’s not that the trash hasn’t been picked up at all. Rather, when Health officials issued a health order, city Sanitation workers accompanied by the police, collected three days worth of trash in the early morning hours, last Thursday.

But, almost immediately, new piles of black plastic bags began accumulating outside the East Flatbush housing complex, and were not collected till the following Tuesday, Dec. 7, when the next health order was issued.

Some residents say the mess is as daunting inside the building as out, thanks to sealed chutes — blocked to prevent garbage from hurtling down to the battered basements. Trash piled inside compactor rooms since the weekend before the lockout representing a week’s worth of detritus at some buildings in the 2,500-unit complex bounded by Foster Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, Newkirk Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, according to those living at the complex, Normally, workers at the complex take the trash out of the buildings to a holding area twice a day.

“The garbage is actually falling out of the compactor rooms,” said Castellano.

But, a spokesperson for Renaissance Equity Holdings disputed the report, saying, “The temporary workers are working diligently to clear all trash from the buildings.”

The locked-out workers, who belong to 32BJ, had been working without a contract since April because Renaissance Equity Holdings, the complex’s owner, has reportedly been demanding pay cuts of 34 percent — from $18-$20 an hour down to $12-$14 per hour — plus a cut in health benefits that would require workers to contribute roughly $100 a month for coverage. Up to now, the workers have had employer-supplied family health care.

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