Sanitation workers for Republic Services and members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are holding a day of action on Friday at facilities in four states, including in Forsyth County, to protest for proper personal protective equipment, improved safety measures and paying “every worker for 40 hours of work” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, similar protests will be held at facilities in California, Massachusetts, Ohio and McDonough, Georgia. The local protest will start at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, May 1 at 2530 Business Drive in Cumming.
On March 16, the Teamsters sent letters to the four largest waste haulers calling for paid sick leave, PPE for workers and compensation for those infected with the novel coronavirus as a result of their job. Per the release, Republic Services was the only company that did not respond.
“Sanitation work is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and even more so during the COVID-19 crisis,” the release said. “While other waste companies have taken steps to protect sanitation workers and the general public, Republic Services, the second-largest sanitation company in the country, has failed to take action. Republic Services workers have reported inadequate and infrequent PPE at worksites across the country, specifically, a lack of puncture-proof gloves, face masks, protective eyewear and face shields. Further, Republic Services has been reducing its workforce, moving to 30-hour workweeks and rotating worker schedules.”
On Republic's website, officials said the company was “continuing to work closely with public health experts and other advisors, as well as following guidance from the CDC and adhering to OSHA guidelines regarding the safe handling of waste and recycling.”