FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Haiku Plantations residents were upset yesterday after city crews picked up their blue and gray bins filled with green waste but bypassed their green bins. Elizabeth Martin, left, Jackie Seifert and Melanie Johnson are shown with their bins.
The refusal of city workers to collect some green-waste bins angers a neighborhood
Residents of a Kaneohe neighborhood were seeing red yesterday morning after watching trucks pick up gray and blue bins but leave behind green-waste recycling bins they had dutifully filled with yard clippings.
Need More Bins?
If you live on a garbage route that has blue bins for green-waste recycling and consistently fill both it and the larger rubbish bin every two weeks, you can call the city Recycling Division to find out about getting a third, green bin at 692-5410. More information about city recycling is at www.opala.org.
The problem was that many of them had filled up the green bins first with green waste, as instructed by the city. Blue and gray bins could be filled with yard leftovers after topping off the green bins for yesterday's green-waste pickup day.
"This morning, the trash man goes by and leaves all the green bins full, and some people only had their green bins out," said Melanie Johnson, who lives in Haiku Plantations.
"All the neighbors were up in arms," Johnson said. The truck picked up blue and gray bins with green waste, but "all the green bins on the street were left."
Neighbors were particularly baffled because they had just received the 96-gallon green bins last week, and this was their first chance to use them.
A June 1 letter from the city Department of Environmental Services Refuse Division attached to the bins instructed recipients to "please fill the green bin first, then the blue bin and, if needed, the gray bin" on designated green-waste pickup days.
That is what Haiku Plantations neighbors -- each of whom have 1-acre lots -- did, Johnson said. They were thrilled to have the extra space because of their large yards, she said.
Johnson said she reread her letter to make sure she had followed instructions, then went back outside to confer with other neighbors who also had green waste left at the curb.
Johnson said she then stopped a green-waste collection truck and told the driver, "Hey, you're leaving the greens."
Johnson said the driver told her, "I was told we're not supposed to pick up the green bins. I'll lose my job."
Later, a refuse supervisor in a city pickup truck came through the neighborhood, and Johnson said she flagged him down, too.
Johnson said the city supervisor told her the administration had sent out letters without negotiating with the labor union and that the union contract only agreed to pick up blue and gray bins. So city workers would not be picking up green bins until the dispute was ironed out, he told her.
Johnson pleaded, and the supervisor told her he would send trucks back to pick up green bins today but that it was a "one time only" deal.
A truck did return and pick up the green bins, Johnson said yesterday afternoon.
Workers in the city Recycling and Refuse divisions were not familiar with the problem yesterday afternoon.
"Apparently, it was just a miscommunication," City Customer Services Director Jeff Coelho said yesterday. "There is no discord with the union and its ability to pick up the green containers."
"There is no dispute. We're on the same page," confirmed Dayton Nakanelua, state director of United Public Workers Local 646, which represents city refuse workers.
Nakanelua said while there is a contract clause that limits regular rubbish routes to 1,000 bins per route, that should not affect green-waste pickup. He said workers should pick up green waste in whatever color bins people leave it in, provided there is no trash mixed in.
The cooperation of the union in the bin pickup of green waste in some neighborhoods since March 1 "has been flawless," Coelho said.