Raleigh sanitation worker dies from COVID-19 complications, union says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The NC Public Service Workers Union said members are concerned for their health and safety after a Raleigh sanitation worker died from complications related to the novel coronavirus.

According to a release from the union, employees with the Solid Waste Services department were told Thursday at that employee Adrian Grubbs, who lived in Harnett County, died Wednesday.

The union said Grubbs was a 17-year veteran of the department, a supervisor and an interim Superintendent in his department.

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City Manager Ruffin Hall released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
This is an incredibly sad day for the City of Raleigh. We have lost one of our own and our hearts are broken. Adrian Grubbs was a young husband and father, who worked for the City for 17 years in Solid Waste Services. He was loved by his family and friends and a dedicated servant of this community.

Even during this uncertain time, we are using every resource available to us to ensure the safety and security of our employees and our community.

We ask for prayers for Adrian, his family, and everyone in the Solid Waste Services Department.


In its statement, the union said it sent a letter of concerns to Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, City Manager Hall, and the Raleigh City Council on March 17. In the letter, the union requested additional sick time for workers, personal protective equipment for all city workers that work in high-traffic areas or areas that may be infected and free child care for local government employees.

The union said none of their requests were granted.

Following the announcement of Grubbs' death, union leaders sent another request to Baldwin and Hall asking for:
  • City Manager Ruffin Hall to meet with all union elected officers to hear the concerns of city workers on the front lines of the pandemic
  • Epidemiology work to follow Grubbs' contacts and quarantine workers who were exposed. Workers would also like to know where Grubbs first contracted the virus and when he may have been contageous.
  • All solid waste workers to be tested for COVID-19 immediately
  • The number of workers in each truck to be reduced so employees can practice social distancing
  • Additonal hazard pay of at least time and a half or a $2/hour increase
  • Additional personal protective equipment
  • Regular workplace cleaning
  • Rotating schedules of workers every other week, with full pay
  • Child care resources for city employees
  • Paid leave for part-time and temporary workers with reduced hours


A representative from the city said adjustments are being made to help keep workers safe, such as staggering their shifts.

"They are struggling to get this trash picked up now with lack of equipment and staff. If this virus causes more people to be out, it will cripple solid waste services. They should have everyone in that building tested and quarantined," said Charlen Parker, president of the Raleigh City Workers Union and a Solid Waste Services operator, in a written statement.

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The union asked for a response from the City of Raleigh within 2 days.

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