MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – There’s growing speculation Memphis sanitation workers could walk off the job this week, leaving your trash on the curb.
The city of Memphis is preparing for the possibility of a sanitation strike, but it would go against a decades-old agreement that followed the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Local 24 News obtained a copy of the letter from the sanitation union’s president addressed to Mayor Jim Strickland. It says they are not behind a “work stoppage” reportedly planned for this Saturday.
The suggestion of one even happening came to the union’s attention from the city.
“Some of the management staff actually questioned us and asked us if we were aware of some people or some employees of solid waste were planning an unsanctioned strike,” said AFSCME Executive Director Gail Tyree. “We said no.”
AFSCME Local 1733 is the sanitation workers’ union in Memphis.
“Evidently management had overheard it from some of the workers out there talking about we’re not going to work on Saturday,” said Tyree.
She provided a flyer calling for workers to pack out City Hall Tuesday in opposition to Solid Waste Director Albert Lamar’s reappointment.
Although the flyer bares the union symbol, the union says it did not approve it. Traditionally, working Saturdays was voluntary. That changed two years ago when Lamar was hired.
“If it’s a holiday, you get your trash picked up one day later, which required our members to have to work on Saturday just to make sure we can keep up,” explained Tyree.
Ever since the 1968 sanitation strike that brought Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis, the worker’s union agreed to not walkout.
The city says if workers participate in the work stoppage, they are in effect resigning from their job under the city charter.