City officials cancelled curbside recycling collection for Monday, Sept. 16, due to a staff shortage of 22 employees in the City of Columbia Solid Waste Utility company.
The lack of employees includes nine vacancies, nine shortages due to injuries or illness and four unavailable for different reasons. Currently, the city is turning to temporary labor services to minimize the impact of the shortages and make up for the lack of available workers.
A City of Columbia spokesperson, Brian Adkisson, said the city has tried to fix this issue by increasing the salary of solid waste employees that was included in last year’s budget.
“Unfortunately, that has not really made a difference in our ability to attract and retain solid waste workers,” Adkisson said.
In an effort to attract more solid waste employees, there is another initiative for a pay increase that is scheduled to be discussed at the city member meeting on Sept. 16.
Adkisson said that the work these employees are doing can be very physically demanding and potentially put people in danger.
“The individuals are jumping off and on a truck constantly all day, picking up large, heavy items throughout the day, and they’re working in extreme conditions,” Adkisson said. “It is a very physical job and with all that movement impacting your entire body, there is opportunity for someone to become ill or be injured.”
The city is working to try and get the collection crews up to full force as quickly as possible and Adkisson said the city apologizes to the customers affected.
“We’re doing everything we to pick up the trash and the recycling as best we can, and doing that with the workers that we do have and using our temporary services as well,” Adkisson said.