YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The explanation for Tuesday’s missed recycling pick-ups in West Manchester Township is nothing unusual: a labor shortage, just like every store or restaurant that has had to cut its hours or close its dining room.
The difference between a restaurant — which doesn’t charge you for a meal if it’s not open — and Penn Waste, according to West Manchester Township Manager Kelly Kelch?
“We pay them approximately $100,000 per month for garbage collection per the contract, and we expect that service. Our residents expect that service,” Kelch said.
Or $99,660, to be exact, according to the contract, viewed Wednesday by abc27 News. Biz News PA first reported missed recycling collections Tuesday, in addition to missed yard waste collections in Lower Allen Township in Cumberland County. Dover Township’s Twitter feed reported missed trash and recycling collections by Penn Waste Tuesday.
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Kelch said the company does eventually pick up the trash, recycling, and yard waste it misses when it’s short-staffed, but “this isn’t something we want to get into as a habit. We have a set schedule. The residents know when to put their garbage out. They expect it to be collected.”
And he said the company has done a good job notifying the township of impending missed collections. But “while that is helpful, the ultimate solution is somehow for them to get the labor needed to get the job done,” Kelch said, even if that means offering higher pay in a tight job market.
The contract allows the township to fine the company $200 per day for missed collections, which Kelch said it has been doing.
Kelch said the problems first surfaced during the summer. Then things got better — and then worse again. The township hears from angry residents — which, to be clear, isn’t all residents.
“A lot of people are hurting. And I feel bad for them,” said Gary Pausch, whose recycling — due for collection Tuesday — was still outside Wednesday. A missed recycling pick-up, he said, isn’t the worst thing happening in the world right now.
In a statement to abc27 News Wednesday afternoon, Penn Waste said it’s doing its best to address staffing challenges but wants to make sure employees who are sick or test positive for COVID stay home. It says it has given its employees “several” raises this year and is offering referral and sign-on bonuses for new hires.
“At this time, the routes that were being impacted are running on schedule,” the company’s statement said. “We are actively recruiting new talent and implementing operational changes to address these challenges and will continue to do so with the hope of insulating Penn Waste and our customers from these challenges to the best of our ability.”