PLAINFIELD, NJ — Frontline workers at the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority rallied outside the main office at 127 Roosevelt Avenue Tuesday to send a message to those in leadership positions, saying they want a fair contract with fair wages.
Sam Andrews said, "We're in the process of negotiating another contract, and this is the reason why we're out here, because we are trying to get better wages for the guys. Some have been working here 20 years, and we haven't received substantial raises to put us up to where the other indices in the city are," using the Department of Public Works as an example. "We're way below where DPW is" in paying its workers.
PMUA frontline workers joined the USWU Local 255 in 2018. The United Service Workers Union can trace its origins back to the 1950s when it represented around 4,000 members. Today, it represents approximately 30,000 members in 18 affiliated local unions.
Andrews said since they joined the Local 255, "we've gotten more work done within the past couple months during the pandemic than we have within the past eight or nine years." That's with estimates of over one in four, or 29%, of the 52 solid waste, sanitation and transfer station workers who contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic.
"So now we're on the right track," Andrews said, "and we have to make a stand in order to get the things that we know are necessary for us guys who are out here in order for us to live." He said the wages are not competitive with other local towns like Dunellen and Middlesex, and workers, who make around $13 per hour, cannot even afford to live in Plainfield.
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USWU Business Agent Ed Kahn told the assembled group he sent a letter Friday to Mayor Adrian Mapp, who responded today, saying the workers have his support.
PMUA also services Fanwood and Clark, collecting recycling in those towns, and parts of North Plainfield and Green Brook, for vegetative waste.
TAPinto Plainfield reached out via email to PMUA Executive Director Eric Jackson for a comment on the rally, but did not receive a response.
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