ST. LOUIS – A shortage of garbage truck drivers has dumpsters overflowing in neighborhoods across the city of St. Louis.
The city is now offering a $3,000 hiring bonus for new drivers.
With fewer garbage trucks around, neighborhood life in the city has gotten quieter and certainly messier.
“My bins in my alley are overflowing,” resident in The Hill neighborhood Kathy McIver said. “I’m afraid of getting mice, rodents, possums, critters, cats going in. It’s just a mess back there.”
Bring on the noisy trucks, she said.
Right now, the city of St. Louis has about 20 vacant St. Louis Refuse Division driver positions. That’s nearly 30 percent. The shortage is the result of a hiring freeze during the pandemic.
The freeze has been lifted and with quite a bang in the St. Louis Refuse Division.
“The city of St. Louis is offering a $3,000 incentive to anyone who gets hired into our Refuse Division as a heavy equipment operator,” city of St. Louis spokesman Nick Dunne said.
“A $3,000 bonus, that’s a nice chunk of change for getting hired onto a new job.”
“I’d go up to $5,000 maybe. I’m telling you, it is a mess back there,” McIver joked.
There aren’t enough people to have separate routes for the blue recycling dumpsters anymore. They’re overflowing, too, and the recyclables are just being thrown in with the regular trash.
“That’s just until we get these refuse positions filled. Then we can start separating refuse and recycling again,” Dunne said.
The city has 30 designated sites where residents can take their recyclables until then.
Current city workers can get a $1,000 bonus for referring someone to a Refuse driver position. Starting pay is $15 an hour with full benefits, plus that $3,000 bonus.
“I think the incentive is great. We have to do something to get the garbage picked up. There’s nowhere to put it,” McIver said.
Add to $3,000, the thanks of entire city neighborhoods that have been far too quiet, and far too messy, for far too long.