UPW suing city over change in garbage collection

Published: Jan. 7, 2015 at 11:34 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2015 at 12:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

Starting on February 1, 181 churches, condominiums and non-profit groups will no longer have free trash collection from the city. They will have to pay private trash collectors. Richard Emery's company Associa manages a dozen of the affected condo associations. He said the change shortchanges thousands of property owners.

"We collect enough money to pay the bills. Now we have a new bill -- refuse collection," he said.

The vast majority of Oahu's condominiums pay for private trash removal. Still, city councilman Ikaika Anderson also opposed the switch for the 181 entities..

"For me it was an issue of equality. You pay real property taxes. You receive all of the benefits and the services that you get in your real property taxes," he said.

Major Kirk Caldwell's communications director Jesse Broder Van Dyke said last year the Caldwell administration proposed charging a fee to people who live in houses and have their trash picked up by the city.  The idea was to provide parity with condo dwellers.  The council removed it from the budget.

The United Public Workers union is now suing the city to stop the trash transition. The union claims it violates a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling and "privatizes" the service.

But Broder Van Dyke said only 13 employees are affected.

"There will be no changes to their wages, benefits or hours of work, and they will continue to perform work representative of the same job class," he said.

The city uses front end loader trash trucks to empty the dumpsters. It is not buying any new ones. 

"I think it's really clear that they need front loaders to service the city services," Emery said. "So doing away with this service is not going to solve the problem."

Damien Memorial School has already transitioned to a private trash company. Bishop Museum is also affected.

"The council can certainly put funding back into the budget for front-end loader service, but it is going to be up to the administration as to whether or not they're going to release that money. Every indication to this point says, 'No,'" Anderson said.

Broder Van Dyke said the Caldwell administration has twice made budget submissions that included funding for front end loaders but both times the council removed the request. 

Emery said owners of units at Crosspointe face a $5,000 a month bill, and finding a private hauler for the properties his company works with hasn't been easy.

"In some cases we've had to have two private haulers because the private haulers themselves couldn't meet the needs of that particular property," he said.

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