Pittsburgh sanitation workers rallied outside of the Bureau of Environmental Services in the Strip District early Wednesday and refused to pick up trash until their demands for better protections were heard. Fitzroy Moss livestreamed the walkout to his Facebook account and accused the department of not alerting workers of potential coronavirus exposure after an employee’s wife allegedly tested positive for COVID-19. They said word got out on Monday when the employee was sent home and told to quarantine himself for 14 days.
“Here we are at my job. Ain’t picking up no rub,” Mr. Moss said in the video. “The rubbish is sitting there. That’s all they care about is picking up the garbage. They don’t even care about our health.”
Mr. Moss said they were asked to sign a paper authorizing that workers were evaluated for the virus and he claimed they in fact were not. “They’re lying to us,” he said.
The workers parked trucks to block the entrances and exits to the parking lot of the building on Railroad Street. During the 90-minute rally, workers demanded better protective gear, such as masks, to protect them from potential coronavirus exposure and hazard pay to help cover co-payments on medical visits in case they are injured on the job.
“Everybody needs to know what goes on in this department,” said worker Tom Foley. “We’re kind of taken for granted because they don’t have to call for us like they have to call for the fire and police. We just show up and do our job.”
They also asked for an additional set of work boots — the workers said they are given just two pairs of boots per year — as well as better gloves. One worker said the gloves they currently use don’t protect their hands and allow water and liquids to drain down inside. Most workers have been purchasing their own surgical gloves since the coronavirus outbreak began, they said.