Private trash collection plan defeated City workers cheer council vote ANNAPOLIS

November 24, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

The Annapolis City Council overwhelmingly rejected last night a controversial plan to privatize the city's trash collection service.

As dozens of garbage collectors applauded and cheered, the mayor and council voted 7-2 against hiring a private company to pick up residential refuse.

Four hours earlier, the garbage collectors marched on Annapolis' City Hall holding aloft picket signs and shouting, "Save Our Jobs."

John Dorsey, a 27-year-old trash collector with four years experience, stood alongside veteran workers, Thomas Williams, James Butler and Landers Kirby, who have spent their lives working for the city. All feared they would lose their jobs.

"The way things are going with the economy, I don't know if I could get another job," said Mr. Dorsey.

A City Council committee that spent a year studying the city's garbage service said privatization would save taxpayers money while expanding recycling efforts.

But union officials countered that the proposal would violate the current contract and cost 36 city workers their jobs.

More than 70 trash collectors and their supporters, sporting "Save Our Jobs" stickers, showed up at last night's hearing before the vote.

"Does the mayor and City Council really think that it is in the best interest of their constituents to breach a contract and illegally displace these families at the height of the holiday season?" demanded Tom Newquist, vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3406, which represents the garbage collectors.

He added that a clause in the current union contract, which expires in July, prohibits the city from contracting out work that is performed by its own employees.

A small group of Annapolis residents showed up to speak in favor of hiring a private company.

Alderman Wayne Turner, who chaired the three-member committee, defended privatization and refused to withdraw the proposal, even though he had been told beforehand that Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and at least four council members would vote against it.

"We are here to attempt to save money for the taxpayers, whenever and wherever we can," said the Republican who represents Ward 6.

Annapolis charges residents $188 a year for trash collection, although that price included a tipping fee for the city's landfill, scheduled to close at the end of December. Under the privatization proposal, trash fees would have dropped to slightly more than $100.

Mr. Turner said at least five of the trash collectors qualify for early retirement and several more could replace temporaries. The rest, he said, would be hired by the private hauler.

But the garbage collectors said they would have to take a 10 percent pay cut and lose many of their medical benefits. They also argued that the private company could not guarantee that they would be hired.

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