Arbitrator sides with city in trash pick-up dispute - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Arbitrator sides with city in trash pick-up dispute

Trash sat on streets, sometimes for days, while the city struggled to catch up. Trash sat on streets, sometimes for days, while the city struggled to catch up.

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - When winter was at its coldest in Memphis, the city's sanitation workers felt they had the right not to work in extremely frigid temperatures.  But the city disagreed.

Now an arbitrator has decided who was right and wrong, siding with the city in the dispute.  

The disagreement arose as temperatures dipped into the low teens two months ago.  At the time, nearly 200 trash collectors went home instead of heading into the bitter cold.  The workers believed they had a right not to work in the cold because of their union's 30-year-old agreement with the city.

As a result, trash sat on streets, sometimes for days, while the city struggled to catch up.

The arbitrator's decision means Memphis residents should not have to worry about trash piling up on curbs when bad weather hits. But some sanitation workers fear the ruling is stripping them of their rights.

Arbitrator David Beckam said in his ruling, "City of Memphis Solid Waste Management supervision does not violate the Memorandum of Understanding on July 1, 2008 when it requires its crews to work inclement weather 'in cases of emergency or when required to maintain or restore service to citizens'."

"The grievance is denied," Beckam wrote.

At the time this story was posted, Action News 5 had not reached AFSCME President Ruth Davis for comment on the ruling.

To read the entire ruling, click here.

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