Mayor Signs Law Protecting Sanitation Union Rights
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law to crack down on the sham unions in the private carting industry. The legislation, which was sponsored by City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, was a long-time priority of Teamsters Local 813.
Of all the safety, environmental, and labor violations that plague the private carting industry, one of the most egregious is the prevalence of sham unions that work to undermine legitimate labor organizing.
The private sanitation industry subjects workers to grueling, and at times, life-threatening work. To make matters worse, in many shops, the unions that are supposed to protect workers’ rights operate are mere extensions the company’s ownership. Sham unions and company owners collude to turn a profit at the expense of workers and to prevent workers from ever securing good benefits and worker protections.
The Teamsters’ organizing and support of workers, and the tireless work of reporters like Keira Feldman at ProPublica were critical in unveiling the prevalence of these issues within private carting industry and the dire need for reform. Private sanitation workers rallied and testified to the working conditions within the industry and the role that sham unions play in perpetuating them and undermining workers’ rights to organize.
Currently, the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) is charged exclusively with regulating private carting companies themselves. However, labor organizations aligned with the companies have been outside of their purview. This blind spot in the agency’s authority has allowed organized crime to continue to maintain a presence within the carting industry.
The new law will authorize BIC to investigate union officers associated with the private carting industry. By closing the loophole in the agency’s authority, this bill would enable the agency to fully root out organized crime from the industry and ensure that unions are supporting the workers and not company ownership.