PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Piles of trash are leading to mounting frustration in Philadelphia. In spots, trash has been sitting out for collection for days and the blame is being pointed at several factors, including COVID-19.
From Logan to Port Richmond and Spring Garden, trash is piling up all around the city with some blocks left with days-worth of mounting piles.
“It’s a little annoying to have trash around but I understand things are happening in the city and they’re doing the best that the can. I’m OK putting up with it,” one woman said.
City officials have warned residents of the recent backlog using Philly’s 311 system to prepare them for delays. It’s bringing little comfort to many.
Even City Councilman Bobby Henon took to social media to voice and illustrate his frustration with last week’s trash piles outside of his district office.
“The delays in sanitation are still directly related to attendance. Last week, we were also hit with some significant storms,” said Philadelphia’s Managing Director Brian Abernathy.
“This is quite a few days. Because everyone is home, everybody is eating more, everybody is shopping more,” said Charles Carrington of Local 427.
Sanitation workers and their union leaders say they’re struggling to keep up with mounds of trash pickups and are facing not only more trash loads due to more people being home during the pandemic. But they are also dealing with rising COVID-19 cases among their own ranks.
“One of our entire districts is pretty much in quarantine,” said Omar Salaam, the business manager of Local 427. “We have 26 people that are currently quarantined because of what’s happening.”
Union members say many of their members go weeks without a day off as essential workers try to keep themselves safe while keeping trash cleared.
“Three loads of trash a day, on a 20-yard high density, that’s a lot of work. And then you take my Saturday and we’re also coming here Sunday. We’re putting for the effort, but at the end of the day, people get tired, they get hurt and of course the positive cases,” Carrington said.
Union leadership tells CBS3 that at least six workers recently tested positive for coronavirus. That is why they had to quarantine 26 other workers in that area.
So there is certainly a staffing issue because of things like that and that is why you see more and more trash pickups being delayed.