Plinio Cruz is a sanitation worker who has been in the commercial waste industry for the last 10 years. He works long nights in midtown Manhattan picking up waste from the city’s restaurants, offices and other businesses. As a Bronx native and hardworking Teamster, Plinio is proud to be able to provide for his family and help keep New York clean, but he worries about a lot of the other non-union drivers he sees out on the road at night.

“When you have a good union behind you, you can do well,” Plinio explains. “We have helpers in my company that make $24 an hour, and you have people doing the same job [at other companies], maybe doing triple the work, for $8.50 an hour. That’s outrageous.”

If he had the opportunity, he would “ask the mayor to please protect these people. They work hard like we do and should be protected.”

Plinio supports a zone approach to commercial waste collection, so that all companies can be held accountable, and all sanitation jobs can be good jobs.

“I’m very proud to be a Teamster. We’d like to see that everybody in the industry gets the same wages and enjoy safety standards and health standards.”

He also sees it as a path to increase recycling and reducing pollution. “I care about the future generations, and I care about what’s going to happen with my kids and my grandsons, and granddaughters. I think we all should care about it.”