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Sanitation Report: "Extensive Waste and Falsification of Time"

By Prescott Carlson in News on Oct 9, 2008 9:05PM

garbagetruck.jpgA 26-page report released by the city's Inspector General David H. Hoffman completely skewers the Bureau of Sanitation department, documenting widespread goofing off and falsification of time records amongst sanitation employees. The Inspector General's Office investigated 77 garbage truck drivers and 145 laborers across 10 wards between May and September of this year in an effort to see if they were putting in their full time. The results showed an astonishing average of 26 percent of the work day -- 2 hours and 3 minutes -- was spent not working. Even the best ward had an average of 1 hour and 38 minutes of non-work time. Spreading out this average over all 50 wards, the IGO estimates an annual loss of $14.3 million in wages -- $20.9 million when factoring in benefits, truck maintenance and fueling costs. Hoffman places blame squarely on the shoulders of Bureau of Sanitation supervisors.

Workers were seen sitting in their cars after clocking in, with some actually swiping their time card and then returning home. Many would drive home for lunch, and stay there for over an hour past their allotted 30 minute lunch break. Others would just stop working well before their time to go home, and sit around waiting to clock out. Investigators saw not one laborer work a full day. This example from the report is especially galling:

IGO observations showed that after the two Laborers sat in their vehicles for about 30 minutes in the morning after swiping in, the crew worked for about 4 hours. For the remaining 3 1/2 hours of the work day, the truck driver spent part of the time simply sitting in the parked garbage truck on the street. The laborers spent almost two hours at their homes and then, after meeting up with two other non-working-but-on-the-clock garbage truck laborers, drank beer, urinated on the street, and went to the ward yard to finally swipe out for the day.
Lou Phillips, business agent for Laborers Local 1001, thinks that the report is just a scapegoat for the expected 300 layoffs in the Sanitation department due next week. Chicago Federation of Labor leader Dennis Gannon agrees, claiming it's a "cheap shot." Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi says that the problem is only due to "a few bad apples," a claim that must be so laughable by the egregiousness detailed in the report that even Mayor Daley was forced to show outrage (well, that and the fact that he's a bit sensitive in regards to Streets and Sans employment issues):
"No one should be sleeping, loafing, drinking, quitting early or anything else. This deals with criminal activity. This deals with cheating. This is not overall management. Leaving early, drinking. This is really kind of criminal activity," Daley said. "They have great jobs. If they don't want the job, just quit. When they identify these individuals, we're going to discipline and fire them. That's what we're going to try to do."
But if he does that, who will be left to pick up the garbage? Read the entire Inspector General report here [PDF]. [S-T, Trib]

Photo by ankylosaur