Sanitation workers concerned about privatization

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It was a heated public council meeting in Lawrence Monday night as several sanitation employees raised concerns over their future.
The Lawrence Common Council approved the contract to privatize the city’s trash and recycling. The company, Republic Services, is offering jobs to all nine sanitation employees starting December 23.
Workers claimed they’re not getting what was promised — a payout for their accrued time earned. On Monday, they were told only employees who have worked 20 years or more for the city could earn their sick time and capped at 600 hours, according to a city ordinance.
“I still have over 300 hours of sick time. That’s three years without missing a day,” said E.J. Fernandez, who has worked for the department for nearly 13 years. “We’re not children. We have families. We have lives and they’ve kept us with a sledgehammer over our heads for months.”
Officials said it’s unlikely Mayor Dean Jessup can waive a city ordinance regarding accrued time earned.
“I believe it’s common in the private sector a lot of other agencies. Sick time is usually not a benefit that’s paid out,” said Keith Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Lawrence Mayor’s Office.
City councilor, Linda Treat, urged the committee to reconsider the employees’ contracts.
“I think a lot of rules were bent and a lot of things that were pursued with no real answers as to why,” said Treat.