It delved into a battle of “he said-she-said” over the weekend. The company denied firing the workers, calling it a misunderstanding, and elected officials as well as teamster’s union representatives called for reform. The latter, are certainly not wrong.
Reform can be an ugly word because it forces some to acknowledge that there’s a problem. That’s what this all stemmed from, an acknowledgement of a problem.
The City Council, in an effort to fix the private sanitation industry, is holding hearings, giving workers a chance to speak their mind about their employers. Two workers did and may or may not have suffered consequences, as its impossible to really know.
But those workers - brave workers speaking out against an employer that they feel is acting in an inappropriate manner - should never fear retribution. They should be protected, and are, by the Whistleblower Act.
It’s not always the case, however, as an atmosphere of trust and transparency does not exist.
The City Council, instead of hoping to meet with the workers, needs to engage in regular visits to industries in need of reform, and even industries where there’s not obvious trouble.
It shouldn’t be on the workers to have to speak out against there employer, it should be on the employer to feel pressure not to harbor an environment that requires a worker to speak out.
It’s difficult when an event, such as the firing of the two workers reaches a citywide scope and becomes politicized, because it moves from a human rights issue to a partisan politics issues. It becomes a pro-or-anti union argument when the argument should be about greater transparency and checks in place in private industries.