Memphis Leaders Struck ’05 Deal To Protect Garbage Workers

The Commercial Appeal over the weekend highlighted a “gentlemen’s agreement” between Memphis leaders and the local sanitation workers’ union, in which the city agreed not to upgrade its fleet of garbage trucks to automated models that require fewer workers, officials told the newspaper. Officials say the decision has cost taxpayers up to $20 million per year since 2005.

“I don’t recall the circumstances or who met with who, or when, but I imagine it occurred when we were preparing to order trucks and it came up in normal discussions with the union,” a Public Works deputy director tells the paper.

The news comes as the city ponders privatizing trash collection and one year after the city imposed a $4.50 per month fee increase for garbage pickup.

The city has 534 employees in its Solid Waste Department. Private companies have told the city they could do the same job with less than half as many workers.