Talking Trash To Save Millions

Talking Trash To Save Millions

The City of Memphis is working with AFSCME Local 1733 to come up with new ways to pick up your trash.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - Sometimes less is more. The City of Memphis is working with AFSCME Local 1733 to come up with new ways to pick up your trash.

If they are successful, it could save taxpayers $5 five million a year and help fund a retirement program for sanitation workers.

Unlike negotiations with police and fire unions, Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad said this is one area of city government where everybody is actually working together.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but soon you will probably see some differences in the way your trash is collected.

The city and the unions are trying to figure out how to make trash collecting in Memphis more efficient.

"We’re not talking about eliminating services, just changing the service model," said Chad Johnson, Executive Director of AFSCME Local 1733, which represents Memphis sanitation workers.

Changes could mean things like only one pick-up a week.

"What we’re trying to do is encourage people to do more recycling," said George Little, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Memphis.

While a new collection plan may include more pick-up routes, it will also include more recycling centers.

"People that recycle would get a $2.50 per month discount," Conrad said.

Everybody seems to be okay with reorganizing the way Memphis does trash.

"My folks are absolutely on board," Johnson told

Currently things are just in the talking stage, and it’s not all about service reductions.

"There’s another way to skin the cat," said Conrad, "that’s what you call 'pay as you throw.'"

Johnson explained, "If you are putting out all that stuff but not paying for it, and you’re supposed to, it’s time to start paying for what you do."

As for the sanitation workers there will be some attrition, but nobody’s getting fired.

"As we attain greater efficiencies," said Little, "hopefully we can pay sanitation workers based on productivity, therefore pay them more."

"We should provide the best services as efficiently as possible in a way that treats employees fairly," Conrad told

They’re also looking at keeping the city healthy.

"Maintaining our city is all of our responsibility; it is our civic duty," said Johnson.

So, doing trash correctly could lead to a lot less "trash talk". All parties are still trading ideas, but don’t expect them to take too long. The consensus is a new plan for picking up your trash could be reached and implemented within the next thirty days.
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