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Sioux City, Iowa

Keywords: Residential Trash, Competitive Bidding

Residential Trash Collection

In Sioux City, Iowa, residential trash collection had been privately provided for over 20 years. At one time there were as many as seven small trash holders providing the service to different parts of the city, but for the past several years trash had been collected by a single company called Solid Waste, Inc., owned by the video rental giant Blockbuster.

When the service was put out to bid in the fall of 1996, the director of the Sioux City Utilities Department approached union leaders with a proposal to put together a bid for the project. Their hard work resulted in public employees winning the contract with the lowest of three bids for the service.

The cost difference between the citys bid and its competitors was minimal, says AFSCME member Garland Treloar. What made the difference, he said, was the joint proposal by Treloar and the Director of Public Utilities in front of City Council. We have two choices. Treloar told the Council. We can make these workers part of the community. We can offer them a decent wage to support their families. And we can be sure that the money the city spends stays here in Sioux City. Or, we can continue with business as usual and send half of what we spend on trash collection off to some corporate headquarters in New Jersey.

The city had no problems taking over the service. Private contractors who had collected trash in the past had always used city-owned trucks and maintenance facilities, so there was no need to purchase new equipment to do the job. In fact, the trash trucks and uniforms worn by the private contractor had always been branded with the Sioux City logo, even though the service was provided by a private firm.

Approximately 10-12 drivers and 10-15 hoppers (trash collectors) were hired to provide the new service. Service quality has improved tremendously, and accident rates with the city are way down compared to the private contractor.

The service will go out to bid again in February 2000.

Based on interview with Garland Treloar, AFSCME Local President, August 18, 1999.