Docked pay for some Memphis sanitation workers - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Docked pay for some Memphis sanitation workers

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Monday morning Memphis was in a deep freeze, as sanitation workers showed up on the job.

The temps so low, they stayed inside for four hours, then 90-percent of the workers went home after taking vacation time for the other four hours of the day.

Tuesday it was still cold, but a different story.

"They were instructed if they are not prepared to go to work by 8 regardless of the temp, was that they would be relieved of duty," said AFSME 1733 Executive Director Gail Tyree.

A morning of frigid temperatures, unprecedented conditions, more than 80-percent of the workers came in at 7 a.m. and went home unpaid by 9:30 a.m.

"We have the authority to request that the workers perform the job that they're being paid for as long as there's a need to maintain or restore services, " said Memphis Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom.

Gilliom added since the holidays, the city has been behind on trash collection for weeks; but Tyree says workers were simply following a directive Tuesday work or go home.

"They didn't make the decision not to work, there was never at any point a work stoppage, there was definitely a concern for unsafe work conditions," Tyree said.

Gilliom says the workers were instructed to take breaks and get out of the cold as often as necessary. He says there was no issue in municipalities like Bartlett and Collierville which also use Memphis sanitation workers.

"Who had no problem with their employees, they have city sanitation workers as well, no problem with workers performing their job Monday or Tuesday," Gilliom said.

Tyree says workers clearly understand the city's contract which states except in cases of emergency or when required to maintain or restore service to citizens. But under the frigid conditions Tyree says, "To pick up garbage was not an emergency situation you know."

The city administration disagreed according to the by-laws and now workers not only didn't get paid, there are also other consequences pending.

"We're considering disciplinary actions as well, because they refused a direct order that is a major infraction which calls for suspension or termination," Gilliom said.

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