Philadelphia Sanitation Workers Rallying For Better Working Conditions After Consistently Putting Health At Risk During COVID-19 Pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia sanitation workers are rallying in Center City for hazard pay and safer working conditions. The workers say they’ve been putting their health at risk during the coronavirus pandemic and the city should step up.

They say as the city is currently going through budget negotiations, their wages and livelihoods should be at the forefront.

The rally is organized by the sanitation workers union. They are demanding protective equipment, better wages, hazard pay and coronavirus testing.

They say the pandemic has only shown a spotlight on the issues they face. The city employs about 1,100 sanitation workers. The union says their median salary is $36,000.

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This all comes as the city is in budget negotiations. If enacted as written, the streets department’s budget would be cut by over $18 million next fiscal year.

The Philadelphia Streets Department did respond to the union saying they’ve distributed PPE and hand sanitizer to employees. They also said workers can be tested at pharmacies and urgent care centers.

This is not a Black Lives Matter protest per se, but with the overwhelming majority of sanitation workers being African American, they say they’re in the same fight.

Councilwoman Helen Gym is sponsoring a bill that would prevent employers from retaliating against workers who need time off for COVID-related illnesses.

The bill will be debated later this week.