The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Something Is Rotten in Baltimore

Nov 9, 2020

When the pandemic shutdown went into effect in Maryland, trash piled up for weeks in some Baltimore City neighborhoods after coronavirus cases were reported at the Department of Public Works (DPW). One garbage center was shut down. By the summer, with not enough workers to pick up trash, city officials announced the end of one of the two weekly pick-ups, for recycling, so that DPW trash workers not sick could pick up trash all over the city at least once a week in every neighborhood.

DPW’s summer employment figures showed one third of workers were not at work in August and September. Returning to twice-a-week trash pick-ups has been pushed back again, to mid-December.

In a city with high unemployment, a city job with benefits and decent pay ought to find plenty of takers. But instead of hiring, DPW asked private contractors to supply garbage workers at $11 an hour! There were not many takers. The city web site did NOT offer city jobs, and in fact the mayor has threatened furloughs and layoffs.

Two city councilmen proposed at the end of October that the city should offer an increase in DPW wages for trash work. That’s not what happened. As the trash piled up, the outgoing mayor decided what the city needed was nine new council staff jobs averaging $79,000 per year, or about twice what DPW workers get.

In a society where money is the measure of all things, Baltimore City cannot get its trash picked up because DPW workers are not valued by city management.