Jim Pozzi said a lack of drivers is the cause of delays, especially after Republic purchased River City and took its contracts earlier this year.
“I’ve got the trucks but I don’t have the drivers to fill the seats and run the routes,” Pozzi said. “We’ve had to push some routes, which delayed them, but we’re not delaying them by not picking them up. We’re just delaying them by a few days.”
Pozzi said the hope is Republic will have enough drivers to have pick ups return to normal, but the expected influx of employees from River City didn’t happen. Of the drivers employed at the time of the purchase, only two were retained because Republic requires its drivers to have CDLs.
“We’re working on getting back to full staff,” Pozzi said. “We actually called the union and said, ‘Hey, is it OK if we pay our drivers more than what’s on the contract?’ ”
Pozzi said the increased pay was an incentive to make the job more attractive to people.
He said there’s also limitations with how many hours drivers can work that make a labor shortage more difficult to navigate: Drivers can’t work more than 60 hours per week and they can’t work more than 14 hours in one day. If a driver works 14 hours in a day, they have to take the next 36 hours off of work.
Pozzi hopes these issues will be resolved within the next six to eight weeks, but there’s no guarantee.
In the meantime, Commissioner Bobby Kaminski said the city mulled over pre-COVID entering an exclusive contract with a trash collector, as that would guarantee trash pickup with a contract. Marseilles and Ottawa residents are able to select their own trash collector.
Pozzi said a community with a contract typically doesn’t have as many issues because drivers there are permanent and usually stick around that community for a while. An open market community has different drivers.