NEW ORLEANS - A group of sanitation workers went on strike May 5th, forming picket lines outside the New Orleans East headquarters of waste disposal company Metro Service Group. The workers are requesting increased pay, equipment, and other protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmembers expressed concern at the May 7th Council meeting and offered assistance in ensuring workers had daily access to PPE, or personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves.
Council President Jason Williams made contact with Metro CEO Jimmie Woods soon after, and was provided assurance that Metro had purchased a significant amount of PPE at its own expense to be made available to workers daily. All parties recognize, however, that other unresolved issues remain, particularly with regard to pay.
"I've been working to facilitate a meeting between Metro Disposal and workers to have a thoughtful discussion of the issues, and I have confirmation that I can get both sides at the table this week. This is the first step to resolving any conflict, talking and truly listening to one another. Support from the state or federal level is likely needed to fully address all needs, but if we can all go hand in hand to make that ask, we're far more likely to succeed," said Councilmember Williams. "Now more than ever, we all understand just how critical professional waste collection and disposal really are to our collective health and well-being. It's very difficult work, and these professionals take pride in what they do. It's in everyone's interest that the parties agree on a workable path forward, and I think New Orleans is really rooting for that."
Keith D. Lampkin
Jason Roger Williams, Council-At-Large