Labor unions, environmentalists, and community groups spoke out today against the City’s decision to lift the suspension of a dangerous private carter. Sanitation Salvage, based in the Bronx, was suspended in August by the Business Integrity Commission (BIC), which found that the company was “an imminent danger to life and property.”
In the past year, Sanitation Salvage has killed two New Yorkers in truck crashes. Mouctar Diallo, a 21-year-old immigrant who had been working for Sanitation Salvage for over a year, was run over in a November 2017 crash. The true nature of his death was covered up and police were told he was unknown to the company. In April 2018, a second Sanitation Salvage truck, operated by the same driver, killed 72-year-old Leon Clarke, a resident of the Bronx’s John Adams Houses, as he was crossing the street with a cane.
At the time of its suspension, Sanitation Salvage was the largest carter in the Bronx and one of the largest in the city. The Business Integrity Commission allowed the company to begin operating last night with an independent monitor and restrictions on hours and shifts.
“Every minute that Sanitation Salvage is driving the streets of New York, it is a danger to its workers and all New Yorkers,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents public and private sanitation workers in New York City. “This company is the poster child for a private carting industry that has broken the rules for years, while workers and communities suffer the consequences. Sanitation Salvage’s license should be revoked for good.”
“We are disappointed that Sanitation Salvage – a waste collection company that has clearly put workers and communities at risk – will be back on the streets,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “Environmental Justice communities are at greatest risk of the kinds of reckless driving this company is infamous for.”
The Business Integrity Commission’s investigation found a shocking number of crashes at the company and routine violation of basic traffic safety laws. In the past three years, Sanitation Salvage has had 58 crashes, which resulted in two fatalities and 11 injuries. Four of the company’s drivers had at least four crashes each.
The agency also found that a majority of Sanitation Salvage drivers were driving in excess of the 14-hour daily legal limit for commercial truck drivers. A majority were also in violation of the 70-hour weekly limit. The BIC investigation also discovered Sanitation Salvage trucks being driven by workers who lacked proper licenses. Half of the company’s trucks have failed roadside inspections with maintenance violations so severe that the trucks were ordered off the road.
“The track record of Sanitation Salvage in terms of public safety, environmental standards and worker protection is most troubling and the decision to lift this operator’s suspension is another example of how completely broken the current system of commercial waste collection remains,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The agency also revealed previously unreported crashes, including a crash from May 7, 2018, when a Sanitation Salvage truck ran a red light and hit a motorcyclist in the Bronx.
“The fact that this reckless carter is back on the streets sends the wrong message,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN. “It demonstrates that accountability is still lacking, and reinforces the need for the upcoming systemic reforms of New York City’s private waste industry. Sanitation Salvage, with its notorious track record on worker and street safety, should not be operating on the streets of 21st Century New York City.”
Sanitation Salvage is just one of many of private carting companies with dangerous business practices. The de Blasio administration is currently developing reforms that will transform the industry through a commercial waste zone policy. Carters will be required to bid for the right to collect waste within a section of the city, reducing truck traffic and holding them to high labor and environmental standards.
“It is deeply troubling that a company with a long history of serious and fatal crashes, wage theft, dangerously long work shifts, and links to organized crime would be allowed back on our city’s streets after their license was rightly suspended,” said Justin Wood, Director of Organizing and Strategic Research at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “Given the overwhelming evidence of Sanitation Salvage’s poor safety practices, the current regulations for the private waste industry are clearly not enough. The City needs to ensure that the forthcoming zoned-waste collection system includes strong and enforceable labor, safety, and environmental standards to force companies like Sanitation Salvage to reform themselves or exit the waste business.”