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Baltimore ‘aggressively’ looking to fill gaps in trash collection after workers refuse to show up

Baltimore has recruited volunteers from other city departments to help supplement the gaps in its Department of Public Works as several trash collectors continue to refuse to report for duty.

The staffing shortages — prompted by the coronavirus pandemic — have created delays in trash pickup, which the city is “aggressively attempting” to remedy, department spokesperson Yolanda Winkler wrote in an email on Monday.

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At least 59 workers did not show up for work on Friday after a period of “permission leave,” in which workers received payment but could opt to stay home, ran out. Some of them reported Monday, Winkler said, but not as many as required for the department to stay on track of its workload.

Meanwhile, recycling pickup services have stopped for three weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak in the Bowleys Lane sanitation facility in East Baltimore temporarily shut down the plant. For now, residents can drop off trash and recycling products at three designated sites throughout the city: the Sisson Street Citizen Drop-Off Center at 2840 Sisson St.; the Northwest Transfer Station at 5030 Reisterstown Road; and the Quarantine Road Landfill at 6100 Quarantine Road.

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“We are assessing alternative means for immediate trash and recycling collections to get all back on schedule,” Winkler said in the email. “We have received volunteers from DOT, DGS, and Recreation and Parks and are seeking volunteers from the Water Bureau. We are also actively seeking to bring some contract help on as well as eligible young adults.”

On Friday, the department announced the end of so-called permission leave and planned to fire anyone who did not come back to work. Winkler did not say if the workers who remained home on Monday were let go.

City residents can also call 311 if they have trash that needs to be collected.

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