New Orleans Uses Prison Labor After Garbagemen Go On Strike

Dozens of striking New Orleans garbagemen who are demanding hazard pay and paid sick leave due to the coronavirus have been replaced by inmates from a nearby prison, according to Payday Report. The workers were employed by the temp service People Ready, which contracts with New Orleans Metro Disposal.

"$10.25 to pick up trash – come on now. It’s contaminated now with coronavirus," strike leader Gregory Woods told the outlet.

Instead of meeting their demands, which include proper safety equipment, $15 an hour, and fixing broken trucks, the city is using workers from the prison in nearby Livingston Parish.

"Metro Services Group has long been an advocate of helping persons who had been incarcerated return to society in a meaningful and productive way," said the city's sanitation services in a statement. "Metro makes no apologies for this policy as a core element of our commitment to being good corporate citizens."

Under state rules, prison inmates, employed by Metro Services, will be paid only 13% of what garbage workers, who only make $10.25-an-hour, are being paid.

“I really don’t like it,” says Woods. “They are really trying to use those dudes to do our job, and they paying them way less than they were paying us.

“They are trying to show the world that people will still do our job without giving us the proper protective equipment,” says Woods. “All of it is a hustle for them, a scam for them. They saving money that’s all they are doing – that’s all it is”. -Payday Report

"We need them to provide us with the proper PPE -- to all the workers immediately and consistently and on a daily basis," said fired worker Jonathan Edward, who added "Provide us with our hazardous pay due to the pandemic of COVID-19."

Worker Harold Peters says he wants his job back if they can reach an agreement.

"We're out here. We're doing our job. We take pride in our work," he said, adding "Actually, we can't wait to get back to work. We just want to be compensated."