'It's a shame': Durham sanitation workers walk off job as trash piles up

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Durham sanitation workers walk off job as trash piles up in community
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Dozens of Durham City Sanitation workers rallied outside the Department of Solid Waste Management Wednesday after they said they have been paid unfairly.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Angelica Bartico didn't understand why her trash bins were still full on trash pick-up day until ABC11 showed up at her front door. She headed to the back of her house to show the overflowing bins.

"Can't really fit much in the yard waste bin," she said. "I don't know if they'll be doing yard waste, but it's just as full."

Just a few blocks down the road at the Department of Solid Waste Management, dozens of sanitation workers rallied outside. They said they are not working until they get what they want from the city. The request includes a $5,000 bonus, compensation for all work outside their job title, and making all temporary workers permanent.

Sanitation worker John Burwell has been on the job for 14 years. He struggles to meet his bills.

"I work four jobs. It's a shame I work for Durham and can't live in Durham. I have to go back and forth from Roxboro every day," said Burwell.

It's the same story for Chanel Henderson, a mom of three who is barely able to provide for them.

"30 to 40 percent of us work a second job. I also work at Harris Teeter and sometimes Amazon on the side," she said. "I still have to hustle and bustle with bills, payments, and rent."

According to City Manager Wanda Page, two-thirds of the people who were supposed to have trash picked up today did not. She hopes to have all routes picked up by the weekend.

Page held a meeting with workers and told ABC11 it went well.

"Really? We didn't get what we asked for," stated Jimmy Ivey. "If she calls that well, that's well."

In the meantime, dump trucks will sit idle at the Department of Solid Waste Management. As trash continues piling up, those living in the area now taking matters into their own hands.

"Maybe I'll be putting it in the back of the truck and driving it out to the dump. Other than that I don't have another option," said Bartico.