Talking Trash with NYC Sanitation Workers

Friday, August 09, 2013

New York City generates 11,000 tons of household trash each day on average, and the city’s sanitation workers keep a regular schedule to take all that trash away. Anthropologist Robin Nagle discusses New York’s City’s 400-year struggle with trash, which she documents in Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City. She’s joined by Angelo Bruno, who was a sanitation worker in Greenwich Village for 31 years; Annalee Feliciano, supervisor in the Bronx, and Myron Priester, former Borough Chief of Brooklyn South, who was involved in the Department's response to Hurricane Sandy.


Angelo Bruno, Annalee Feliciano, Robin Nagle and Myron Priester

Comments [8]

Agreed w/ poster M.M. above. The way she interjected and doubted her was rude. Sounded like she was saying Ms Annalee wasn't being honest. I'm sure Annalee is capable of knowing how much she made on her first year on the job. I figured that she factored in some considerable overtime as well. What was asked was how much did you make, not the base pay. Great to hear this segment, appreciate them very much!

Aug. 10 2013 01:17 AM
ellen diamond from Manhattan

Finally, an honest DOS supervisor, Annalee Feliciano, admits that the stench in the Bronx Garbage Transfer Station is so bad that working there is considered a dreadful assignment - and when Mr. Lopate naively asked if all Transfer Stations smell that bad, she replied: "That's the nature of a Transfer Station."
Perhaps someone should tell this to Christine Quinn and Bill deBlasio, who see nothing at all wrong with putting a 10-story Transfer Station handling up to 500 tons of garbage every day within 1-2 blocks of 6 public housing residences and within blocks of tens of thousands of other residents, with the trucks lined up every day in front of playing fields and a playground to which hundreds of city children come each week at Asphalt Green's community Health, Sports and Recreation Center.

Aug. 09 2013 12:49 PM
Kevan Lunney from NJ

two thoughts for Robin,
Radio Lab had a wonderful broadcast about the Rubbish mounds of Oxyrhyncus Egypt. It was in 2006 I believe. Archaeologist from Oxford University went to Egypt to find treasure but found ancient Greek manuscripts on Papyrus. Pulp fiction novels by the score, everyday inventories and receipts and jokes about lawyers and prostitutes!

Also, in Japan, I have been told, they put a white ribbon on the appliances that are put out for garbage that still work.

Aug. 09 2013 12:39 PM
Anna from West Village

Notes on the gender issue. As a young woman in the city, who's used to the noise of the male species (or catcalls), I have to say that of all the men who make comments, the sanitation workers are always the most polite and most complimentary. It's all "Good evenings," and "have a nice walk", and "get home safe." They could whistle or scream "Yo yo ma!" which I don't mind, (no one really minds being whistled at), but I just wanted to say that the sanitation workers are real gents. Thanks for your work + your CIVILITY.

Aug. 09 2013 12:37 PM

Robin is wrong. The other female guest, Annalee, mentioned her pay as a sand hog. Quoting the Village Voice: "Also, there is no pay grade: Except for the project superintendent, all sandhogs take home the same $45 an hour. Counting the money directed into union-benefit funds, the rate is closer to $100 an hour. In a busy year, a sandhog can make more than $100,000 "

Aug. 09 2013 12:34 PM
Daniel Sherr from Soho

Hi, I´m listening to the program now, and I have a couple of questions:

1) Why doesn´t the Sanitation department move to implement some techniques that are in use in other cities, i.e., having the garbage deposited in plastic bins that can be hoisted up by the garbage trucks? This would cut down on rodents and be less physically stressful for the workers.

2) Why doesn´t the Department move to hybrid garbage trucks, with a resulting decrease in air pollution?

3) What is the guests´opinion on the controversial transfer station being proposed for the Upper East Side?


Aug. 09 2013 12:26 PM
Johan from ex-Williamsburg

I am all for recycling, but after my last moving (in Williamsburg) I put a lot of furniture on the curb, together with bags full of trash.

The next morning, all bags were ripped open and scattered over the sidewalk, resulting in a fine for us, as sanitation would not take it.

So after locking already locking our trash, do we now also need a night watcher?

Aug. 09 2013 12:24 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Picking Up is nicely written and quite interesting. I found it in the Queens library.

It gave me some real insights, except for one thing that summer "fragrance" around the truck. Does it linger with the workers?

Aug. 09 2013 12:20 PM

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