Berkeley City Council postpones purchase of new waste trucks

Berkeley City Council decided at its meeting Tuesday night to postpone a vote to buy new garbage trucks that would cost the city millions of dollars.

At the meeting, a proposal to vote on the purchase of 10 new automated garbage trucks amounting to about $3.6 million was removed from the consent calendar and pushed back until the Nov. 8 meeting so council members could gather more information about the proposal and allow local union members to give the city their recommendations.

During the public comment period at the meeting, Gladys Gray, a member of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said she was wary of the council voting on this proposal because the SEIU 1021 has not been given an adequate forum to voice their recommendations to the city.

Councilmember Darryl Moore, who requested for the proposal’s postponement, said he was unaware of the lack of communication between the two before Gray spoke at the meeting.

The proposal would replace many of the current garbage trucks, which are more than 15 years old, with up to 10 new trucks that would save the city money in the long-term because the new trucks only require one person for operation while the current trucks require two. According to the proposal, the purchase would help decreased a $1.2 million deficit in the refuse fund, though the city has no projected monetary amount for the plan’s long-term savings, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

Ricky Johnson, a member of SEIU Local 1021 and test driver of the proposed trucks, said many city streets prove difficult to navigate due to street parking and the added width of the side-loader garbage trucks.

Therefore, Johnson said he will likely recommend reducing the number of purchasing 10 automated trucks to no more than six.