‘We had to hire more folks’: Mayor Kenny says Philly catching up on trash pickups

Some city residents say they are fed up with delayed trash collection. The city says sanitation workers are worked harder than ever, due to more people staying home and making more trash. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Some city residents say they are fed up with delayed trash collection. The city says sanitation workers are worked harder than ever, due to more people staying home and making more trash. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The city of Philadelphia is improving the rate at which trash is collected by hiring new sanitation workers.

Mayor Jim Kenney says, by hiring 70 additional workers for the streets department, they have been able to draw closer to catching up on collections.

“We’ve been having a hard time hiring … people because they have been getting checks and staying home, and people are a little reticent about coming back to the work environment.”

Kenney adds picking up the trash isn’t an easy job.

“Our sanitation people worked hard throughout the pandemic, every single day. I know people complain, but there’s 30% more trash. All kinds of issues they dealt with. We’re a day behind now, and hope to be back on track by the end of the week.”

Another concern for the city has been the number of workers who just haven’t shown up for work, says Kenney.

“We’ve had as many as 400 people call in sick, that puts more pressure and work on the other people who show up for work, so we had to hire more folks.”

Summer holidays and vacations also add to the situation, and the high heat and humidity also slows the process.

Sanitation jobs aren’t the only positions that have been unfilled during the pandemic. The Parks and Recreation Department had a shortage of lifeguards, which resulted in some pools not opening.  In other cases, seasonal positions were not filled.

Philadelphia’s City Controller has also criticized the Kenney administration for not filling jobs as part of a recent review of the administration.

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