Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Automation the crux of the garbage strike?

Ten weeks in, and I haven't seen the media cover the role of the automated garbage collection system in the current strike, but I imagine it's playing a big part.

Background for those of you living somewhere else, or in a west end apartment building: about two years ago we traded in our old-fashioned garbage cans for city-supplied ones. The trucks could now drive through the lanes, put a forklift-type mechanism under each can on the route, lift it up, tilt it, and dump the garbage in the truck. The media reported that sick days dropped significantly after that.

What they didn't report is that the garbage probably got collected much faster as well. I bet it cut the time needed to do a route by at least 10%, maybe 15%. Couple that with the trend to replacing houses with condos, which have their garbage picked up by private providers, and it's likely that the city sanitation department is overstaffed by at least 15%. The union is in a hard place trying to justify that the city keep the least senior people around (or least deserving, whichever metric you want to use), a couple of other groups jumped in, and the rest of us are left with nothing.

But I'm just guessing. The media seem to have more important stories to cover, like the Jeffs trial in Utah and the pig farmer trial.

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