PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Frustrations continue to mount in Philadelphia as piles of garbage do the same. For the past two months, the Streets Department has been operating on delays causing residential trash to intermittently pile up.
“Trash is trending at about 30% higher than normal and this is our peak season,” said Keith Warren, Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Streets Department.
The increase in household waste plus, a critical staffing shortage, are the lingering effects of COVID-19 that have wreaked havoc on garbage pickup schedules, according to the department.
But as sanitation workers try and get a grip on the piling trash, they are dealing with another growing issue — workers getting pricked by needles tossed in garbage bags.
“They have been working six days a week straight every single week since February,” said Terrill Haigler, a former sanitation worker better known by his nickname, “YaFavTrashman.”
Haigler gained a large following on his Instagram page by documenting hardships on the job.
“I’ve literally found my purpose,” is what Haigler told Ukee Washington when he was featured in Ukee’s weekly Brotherly Love segment.
After resigning from his position in February, Haigler now runs community cleanups and advocates for sanitation workers.
“They are working hard and they are trying to catch up,” he said of the recent pickup delays.
To help his former colleagues catch up safely, Haigler has launched a campaign to get puncture-proof gloves on their hands.
“I was getting DMs and text messages from former coworkers saying, ‘Do you have any gloves? Such and such got poked,'” he said.
Getting “poked” is what workers call getting punctured by a needle that was thrown into the trash by drug users.
Through donations and partners, such as ShopRite CEO Jeff Brown, Haigler’s goal is to purchase 2,000 of the special gloves for the city’s 1,200 sanitation workers.
“There are actual human beings picking up your trash,” he said. “It’s not robots picking up your trash.”
Haigler asks residents to have some grace when it comes to the current delays and to find ways to support workers.
To purchase a glove that will be gifted to a Philadelphia sanitation worker, head to YaFavTrashman’s Instagram page or click here.