Archive for Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Questions on Lawrence trash service incentives resolved

October 12, 2010


About half-a-day per week.

That’s the average amount of paid time off that members of the city’s trash service receive through an incentive program that caught the eye of an auditor earlier this year.

A new report out of City Hall has found that loaders and operators of the solid waste service are receiving about six to eight hours of paid time off every two weeks under a program that allows those employees to leave early if all trash crews have completed collections for the day.

“I’m glad that we’re keeping track of the information,” said City Manager David Corliss. “It allows you to see how much less than eight hours they are working, and at this point I don’t think it is inappropriate given the demands of their jobs and the service they are providing.”

The city’s auditor, who highlighted the incentive program in a January audit, applauded the city for following his recommendation to more clearly track the amount of paid time off issued through the program.

“There are good reasons to use the incentive, but we ought to be in a position to answer the questions that come up from citizens about just how large the incentive is,” said Michael Eglinski, city auditor.

City management has said the incentive system is valuable because it gives employees added motivation to complete their work in an efficient manner. The program allows an employee to leave early only if all trash routes have been completed, and if the employee’s supervisor believes that the employee worked in an efficient and safe manner.

City commissioners will receive the report at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today at City Hall. Other items from the report include:

• The city has begun testing new trash trucks that rely on greater amounts of automation. The city has used trucks from two different vendors to determine whether the city could reduce crew sizes or find other ways to more efficiently pick up residential trash. Corliss said the city is still reviewing the information.

• Trash crews have begun a program to weigh how much yard waste they collect. The January audit questioned whether the city had accurate totals of the amount of yard waste collected, and thus whether the city had an accurate estimate of the city’s overall recycling rate. Trash trucks once per month are now weighing their loads before they dump the yard waste. On a more limited basis, a crew is weighing some yard waste containers at the curb to gather data. The city hopes to get a year’s worth of data and then update it once every three years.


Number_1_Grandma 7 years, 7 months ago

BS- I personally know several of these haulers who are home by noon- 1 PM every day!

The audit is only as good as the information given. Ride with these guys for awhile and you'll see what I mean. I could agree with 8 hrs every WEEK....not 2 weeks.

parrothead8 7 years, 7 months ago

Did you take into account that these guys often start work before 5 in the morning?

notyourmom 7 years, 7 months ago

That early! I had no idea! I knew it was before 8 though, because they pick up my trash at 7.

Tammy Copp-Barta 7 years, 7 months ago

Are they opening this up to other city employees? What about the police officers .. when they finish so many calls they get to go home .. or how about the admin assistants, when they process so many things they can go home. I'd LOVE to go home when I've got my work done .. but not gonna HAPPEN!

robinhoodlum 7 years, 7 months ago

With the early start they have they have already put in a full day by 1 pm. They are doing a job rain shine or snow that many wouldn't. Handling trash in below zero weather or garbage that has been fermenting in 90 plus degrees of humidity isn't my idea of a job.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

If you've completed all of your work, what are you doing at work after that point?

Not working, presumably.

So either way you're getting paid for not working.

amrose42683 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm an admin asst and I wish I could go home early! If anything, we are the ones who have to stay our whole shift period due to the fact that there's always something to do in an office whether you 'feel' like doing it or not. There's always a phone to answer, always filing, always paperwork. I think you have a very distorted perception of what admin assistants do. Some may do more than others, but if you know one that gets to go home once they've 'processed so many things' please let me know where they work and I'll steer clear as that would mean the place probably isn't very well organized and that person is never there when you need them.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 7 months ago

Go haul trash then if you are whining that someone gets something you do not or that you do not like your job.

justtired 7 years, 7 months ago

Grandma---do their job for a week and then comment! Also, do you get holidays off? These guys DO NOT!!!!!!! On holidays they have to be there at 5:00am, no matter of the weather. I think that if you were there with them at 5:30am and worked their might change your mind. When it is freezing and below outside, the drivers have to be there to make sure the diesel trucks are warmed up so it doesn't damage the trucks so taxpayers like you won't have to foot the bill!!!! Walk a mile in steel toed boots, parkas during the winter and when it is over 100 degrees in the summer.....then judge!

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't know what you're talking about, there's no trash pickup on holidays.

justtired 7 years, 7 months ago

The businesses in Lawrence have trash service on holidays. I know this for a fact!

TheRat 7 years, 7 months ago

Questions on trash service incentives resolved HOW ??

I know some of these loaders & drivers and YES GRANDMA I AGREE. It is more like 8 hr. a week. The incentive system is valuable because it gives employees added motivation to complete their work in an efficient manner. The program allows an employee to leave early only if all trash routes have been completed, and if the employee’s supervisor believes that the employee worked in an efficient and safe manner.

I would think that a safe and efficient manner is part of the job and was what they were hired to do. These guys make very good money for what they do. NOW, what about the rest of the city employees who do there jobs safely & efficiently? WHY just sanitation? I believe in 8 hrs work for 8 hrs Pay. There are a lot of things these people could be doing, such as picking up the trash in alleys, city streets and parkings. So many things they could be doing with that 8 hrs. Now figure the number of people, there hourly wage for say 8 hrs every 2 weeks for 52 weeks a year. Pretty good sum of money to be giving away, that could be spent much better. I blame this all on the powers at City Hall.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

That's not a bad suggestion, to have them doing other trash related things if they've finished their normal collection - why don't you suggest it to the city?

The other suggestion I've heard is that we might be able to reduce the size of the workforce to where the employees need to work a full shift to complete the tasks. And that would be more efficient.

But I agree that it's a tough and unpleasant job, and they deserve our respect and thanks for doing it in all sorts of weather.

sundowner 7 years, 7 months ago

I know for a fact that most of the loaders & drivers do not take a lunch break. So quit bullying these people!

CLARKKENT 7 years, 7 months ago


jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

One could also argue that compensation should be tied to results, not hours worked.

JustNoticed 7 years, 7 months ago

how about, "I appreciate what they do."?

optimist 7 years, 7 months ago

Sanitation is a nasty job and therefore it is likely difficult to retain quality people. If this incentive is effective in doing that then why should anyone have a problem with it. I do however want to take this opportunity to point out that the incentive should also include a quality of work standard. I have come home to find debris littering my street where sanitation employees have spilled garbage while emptying it into the truck and just left it, probably in their haste to finish for the day. I have actually witnessed this several times in the past in other neighborhoods on my way to work in the morning. I've also come home to find that yard debris was not picked up from my curb because some branches that were left while they were cut to the required length the bundle wasn't neat and as a consequence the bundle appeared to be too long. It is things like this that will cause me to change my position on this.

It would do the sanitation workers well to remember that they work for us and it never hurts to make a good impression. Going out of their way to do a good job for us, even going above and beyond when appropriate will certainly go a long way toward garnering support for retaining this incentive.

cozy 7 years, 7 months ago

"I have come home to find debris littering my street where sanitation employees have spilled garbage while emptying it into the truck and just left it, probably in their haste to finish for the day. I have actually witnessed this several times in the past in other neighborhoods on my way to work in the morning. "

I have this SAME EXACT problem. How hard is it to do your job, really? I'm pretty sure a dishwasher can't clean half a dish, a cop can't only put the handcuffs on one wrist, a lawnmower cant mow the whole lawn except for one strip. Come on.

"I've also come home to find that yard debris was not picked up from my curb"

I had this happen too, somebody decided to rip the lawn bag when they picked it up and left debris on my grass instead of just picking up the maybe 2 handfuls and putting it where it is supposed to go.

I'm so tired of everyone anymore doing a half @ss job at everything they do. Whatever happened to being proud of your work and taking pride in your job..

d_prowess 7 years, 7 months ago

The people that want them to start picking up random trash around town if they finish their route early are crazy. If that was ever implemented, the result would just be a slower effort so that it ensures it takes them 8 hours to do the pick up.
If anyone really wants to fix this, it would be by increasing their routes. Lawrence is growing all the time, so at some point I assume you could absorb that growth by adding to their workload instead of just adding staff.

justtired 7 years, 7 months ago

The staff does clean along the streets...the problem with this is that most drivers do not pay attention to what they are it becomes a safety issue as well. There are several loaders that have been injured due to the ignorance of others. One loader had to retire because a driver hit him while he was behind the truck...but no one ever hears that feedback. It is a hazardous job...and ranks higher on the most dangerous jobs than the police and fire service. Besides, if you want to work for the same incentive program....apply for the job!!!!!!!!!!! But most people feel this job is beneath them.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Privatized never guarantees lower cost. When private industry sees a government contract coming what they see is MORE MORE MORE money.

The medical insurance industry is a perfect example of how not to contain expenses! AND receives about $1.2 trillion medical insurance tax dollars annually

The United States spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on healthcare – $8160 per capita – yet performs poorly in comparison and leaves over 46 million people without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

What increases the cost of private industry?

High dollar reckless spending on: corp jets • its bureaucracy • profits • high corporate salaries • advertising over charges Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee. • sales commissions • Shareholders CERTAINLY increases the cost of insurance • Special interest campaign dollars

*Golden parachutes
CIGNA CEO Receives $73 million retirement bonus

How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you?

I say Lawrence has excellent trash service and we keep local people on the job! Can Lawrence get better at what it does? Perhaps! Looks like it is in the works.

PAYT = doing it better!

Curbside Recycling = doing it better!

notyourmom 7 years, 7 months ago

Let's see. 4 hours every two weeks. They work from 5 to when their done, which is noon or 1. Sounds like they may cut their lunch hours by 20 to 30 minutes? That's a smart way for these guys to go. Plus, I bet a whole hour off sitting is just perfect for locking up tired muscles. Cut that time down and muscle through the afternoon, get done early and get paid the difference. That is good incentive.

justtired 7 years, 7 months ago

The guys that work on the trucks do not take lunches. They take their breaks, but that is all. If they are lucky, they can take time to use the bathroom.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

What do they do if they're not "lucky"?

Bob Forer 7 years, 7 months ago

I think most of them start early. The leaf haul guys are at my house before 6:00 a.m. every Monday. Ever watch the guys work? they bust their butts. Its hard and dirty work, but is one of the more important jobs in a modern society. Ever visit a large busy during one of their infamous sanitation workers strike?

Were there no incentive program in place, I can assure you the guys would lessen their break neck pace and take a full eight hours to complete their routes. So what's it to us? Incentive program or no incentive program, the cost would be the same. .

For Christsakes, leave the poor hard working men alone. Extra hard work should be rewarded, and the reward-- a few hours of spare time from a job that most Lawrencians would refuse--doesn't cost us a dime.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, some of the posts have indicated that they do less than a great job - maybe if they weren't rushing to get done, it would be better.

Bob Forer 7 years, 7 months ago

And another thing. If the incentive program were removed, I would encourage the sanitation workers to form a union, and implement a work slow down. We are now paying eight hours pay for around seven hours of excrutiating hard work. How would we taxpayers like it if all of a sudden we ended up paying nine hours or more pay for eight hours work. Think of the 1 1/2 overtime expense involved.

Bob Forer 7 years, 7 months ago

If you want to fight higher taxes, go after the overpaid school administrators and the millionaires behind the proposed library project, and not some poor hard working unskilled laborers. And we call ourselves a Christian nation? Phooey!!! Most of you are too scared and/or too busy sucking up to the monied interests to be worth a damn as good and decent human beings.

Frank A Janzen 7 years, 7 months ago

No one has mentioned how much these guys get paid for their work. How much is it? Are the getting high salaries? They are unionized, so do they get a lot of other benefits, aside from this "incentive time." So how much are we looking at?

pace 7 years, 7 months ago

they are not union. While I have heavy disagreement with management and policy, the men and women that grab those cans do a great job.

evilpenguin 7 years, 7 months ago

I personally don't see why they should get any incentive. The job they do is a job they APPLIED to do in the first place so why should the city pay them more when they volunteered to do a dirty job?

If they didn't offer the incentive then other people who need work would be applying to fill theirs jobs so we would never be short on people to empty the bins.

Also, who monitors whether the drivers actually pick up all the bins that are set out? I work in an office and our bin gets missed all the time. They miss say....30 bins in a day, everyone gets to go home early and they get paid. I fail to see where the incentive in encouraging laziness is actually useful to anyone but the trash guys. I hear that they have to mark down what bins are emptied but how many people will call the city if they're not?

The whole program seems completely ridiculous when the money being paid to the trash guys could be re-directed to something more worthy and less wasteful.

cozborn 7 years, 7 months ago

So being a former trash man I have a few things to say about this.

The city that I worked for brought this up. Soon the citizens started complaining about trash being around all day. We actually started a slow down, took all the legal breaks and lunches. Started doing a wonderful job on the walk around inspection of the truck every morning etc etc.

What most city's do is only pay them for 10 hours a day, so if you work later for any reason, you don't get paid. Since the faster the job got done the less we got paid, we figured the slower and easier we took the route the more we would get paid, I actually was starting to receive overtime after they implemented the policy of "hours worked is hours paid"

Right around Christmastime when we started get 3 hours overtime a day, they reverted to the old policy

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

What about the idea that one works a normal workday and does a normal amount of work, and a good job?

Either speeding up (and possibly doing less of a good job) or slowing it down and working slower than necessary in order to receive overtime seem like bad ideas to me.

gccs14r 7 years, 7 months ago

Think of the incentive program as comp time. There are times when trash volume is especially high or particularly gross, and the guys don't get paid any extra on those days, so getting a break when volume is low seems reasonable.

windjammer 7 years, 7 months ago

I think if the workers get the job done in four hours they should get fours hours off every day. We have the best crews in Kansas don't worry about how much time they have off. Just admire the job they do.

pace 7 years, 7 months ago

the audit doesn't include the hours the crews sit in the building, waiting for the last crew to come in. Nor does it seem to address the odd overtime where people are regularly scheduled for overtime to work on Saturday rather than assigning the work to a driver anything but monday through friday. Heaven help us to assign a driver a Tuesday to Saturday shift. Favorites get the Saturday time. Heaven forbid a true audit of practices sweep through the entire city offices. Then they might have to do something different than the last 59 years. Ohh

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