Union’s clout evident in garbage dispute
The city has stopped curbside trash pickup on unpaved roads in Kahuku Village.
REFUSE workers' claims that dust from coral-bed roads in Kahuku Village is a risk to their health and safety have the city refusing house-to-house trash pickups
for about half of 135 homes in the area.
Though officials should be concerned about their employees, they also must consider the welfare of the village's residents, many of whose homes sit on city-owned land and are leased from the city.
Since manual curbside collections stopped in May, residents have had to carry their trash to bins near a paved highway some 50 to 100 yards away -- an inconvenience for the hale, a hardship for the frail and elderly.
Moreover, the two bins residents had to buy on their own aren't large enough to hold all their trash. What doesn't fit is left on the roadside where rats, mongoose, dogs and cats often break open bags and scatter garbage, creating litter and a health hazard.
There has been no determination that the dust harms garbage workers, but when the United Public Workers union told officials it planned to file a complaint, trash service was halted. While it is understandable that officials don't want to get involved in a union dispute, it seems UPW's influence -- its mere mention of a complaint -- weighed far too heavily in the situation.
The village association, which is responsible for the roads, has tried to mitigate the dust but it doesn't have enough money to pave the roads to city standards.
As it should, the city is trying to correct its default of providing a basic municipal service, either through automated pickup or by helping fix the roads. Meanwhile, the UPW might want to reconsider its unconscionable claim.
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