Overstaffing Chicago Garbage Trucks

Used to be that Chicago garbage trucks had three men.

Being from this area, where one person, a driver, who jockeys the garbage cans himself, I never understood why there would be such blatant waste in the cash-starved city.

That’s not quite true.

It’s obvious that Chicago overstaffs its garbage trucks in order to keep more people on the payroll.

Heading up the hill in Wonder Lake, I saw these two garbage trucks. The one on the left is Marengo Garbage Disposal. The one on the right is Waste Management, I believe.  Both have one person. Both are automated.

Sounds like an easy way to save money to me.

It’s not as if one has to re-invent the wheel.


Overstaffing Chicago Garbage Trucks — 35 Comments

  1. Sun City, AZ they have 4 people to a truck, it’s done by the job not hourly, and they jog from can to can.

  2. That much labor is required in Sun City because the minimum work age is 85.

  3. Na, they are young adults, and they move threw the job faster than any garbage dudes around here.

    Paid by the job is the big motivator to move so fast, unlike Chicago dudes who get paid by the hour.

  4. why do we care how many men are on a truck in Chicago.

    That is Chicago not McHenry

  5. I agree voter.

    There is much more traffic and people in Chicago so for liability purposes alone they need more men.

    The driver can’t jump out, throw garbage in and get back in.

    Also there are many more businesses and residences in Chicago.

    The Herald had that we have the lowest state employees per citizen in Illinois except for Florida and they are paid lower than state employees in Texas and North Carolina.

    Instead of looking at Chicago garbage trucks look locally where even if Chicago enacts the biggest property tax ever they still pay less than the suburbs.


  7. Unions have their place in dangerous occupations or any labor job that require high levels of training.

    Most other jobs should not be union, such as food service or government employees.

    Right to work states will continue to dominate economic growth, and attract new business and employment, at the expense of non right to work states.

  8. Karma is out of touch, labor unions are out of touch, see their membership totals, labor unions and Chicago (and Illinois) politics are and have been synonymous with corruption for decades. The reason for downsizing is efficiency, just like when you get old, you downsize.

  9. Hey! Karma! The President’s open border policy is doing a great job of lowering our wages!
    Your comment: “The Herald had that we have the lowest state employees per citizen in Illinois except for Florida and they are paid lower than state employees in Texas and North Carolina.” is a great example of distorted reporting. They ‘cherry-picked’ the census numbers. Illinois as you know has more units of government than any other state. As a consequence, just isolating State employees as a separate entity presents a deceitful picture. Each state operates in their own way when it comes to government units.
    We have the tenth highest number of public sector employees per capita in the country and when you look at what we pay them we rank fifth highest. Only New Jersey, New York state, Wyoming and D.C. pay their public sector employees more per capita.
    Source: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk
    Yes. Property tax in Chicago is lower because we gouge the taxpayers in the rest of the State to subsidize the money-hungry monster which is also run by Democrats!!
    The Democrat controlled Legislature keeps decimating the State work force to subsidize Chicago!

  10. The residential neighborhoods I have driven through in Chicago seem pretty similar to Crystal Lake’s.

    I see no reason why more than one person is needed…anymore than a fireman and a manned caboose is needed on freight trains.

  11. I think people are just commenting on comparative government efficiency.

    Garbage collection is more efficient in our area than in Chicago, it seems to me.

  12. I agree with Cal regarding the efficiency aspect of this.

    Karma, of course there are more homes and businesses in Chicago but…

    If you have more garbage to collect, you need more trucks, not more men.

    Further, the bulk of the garbage in Chicago is NOT placed by the curb on city streets – it is in the alleys.



    Try “featherbedding” if you have multiple workers.


    News flash.

    City of Chicago does NOT provide refuse collection for businesses.

    That’s done by private contactors who charge the business direct.

  13. Chicago collects trash from single-family homes and duplexes using city workers and city trucks in a fully socialized system.

    In both city and suburbs, multi-family residential complexes and all businesses contract with private waste haulers who compete in a fully free market system.

    Most suburbs collect residential waste in a mixed system with private waste haulers collecting either under contract to the government or under a monopoly granted by the government.

    The 3 groups have wildly different incentive structures and resulting differences in investment and innovation.

    In Chicago and other big cities which use the fully socialized system, trash collection is essentially unchanged since the 1950s, whereas newer technology has revolutioned the other 2 systems.

  14. Cut off the State subsidies to Chicago and find out how quick they streamline garbage collection which I am told is controlled by the Aldermen.

    Re: ” whereas newer technology has revolutioned the other 2 systems.”

    Reminds me of a story run this past weekend in the NWH about the Kooistra dairy farm.

    It pictured a guy placing a milking machine on a cow.

    Most larger dairy farms (100 cows and more) have moved to automated milking parlors.


    Lower cost than employing people to do the job.

    Unless we dry up the cheap labor source, dairy farms will delay implementing automation and continue to ‘feed the need’ for cheap labor.

    Just like the grape growers in CA who delayed automation of grape picking while Australia was busy implementing automated grape picking.


    Cheap labor from south of the border.

    Even goat milking has been automated:


  15. My statistics come from the Northwest Herald editorial of this week.

    And none of you right wingers are answering why you are so concerned with Chicago when McHenry county pays more taxes than they do and it is locally overwhelmingly Republican controlled.

    If we have such low costs why are groceries so high?

    Meat is very expensive now?

    How about rents which often cost more than the average McHenry county worker who is not unionized can afford and all taxpayers have to subsidize these people.

    Give people, if in a union or not in a union, a decent wage and you won’t have to pay for food stamps, housing subsidies, etc. but you will still have corporate welfare which costs more than any welfare programs.

    In 2005 Bush had big US companies bring $17 trillion in offshore money back to our country to create jobs but they did not create jobs.

  16. Also keep putting people out of work and the middle class will disappear.

    There is a lot of income inequality in US now and that is not good for the country.

    You will get a socialist president.

    Bernie Sanders.

  17. karma: I did not say the statistics were wrong, I intimated the opinion was deceitful.

    I am concerned about Chicago because my taxes are used to subsidize that City thanks to the Democrats in Springfield.
    In answer to your question:

    “If we have such low costs why are groceries so high? “

    I suggest you ask Dick Durbin or the guy in the White House.

    The middle class is being decimated because of the actions of the President and his failure to control the influx of illegal and legal aliens.

  18. Karma says “If we have such low costs why are groceries so high?”

    The answer is that food has never since the dawn of mankind consumed less of a family’s income than they do in modern America.

  19. The middle class is being decimated because billionaires and big corporations lobby congress to make the rules unfair to the middle class.

    The rich land barons of the late 1800’s did not want people to be middle class as in the 1950’s and 1960’s they said middle class people speak up for themselves too much.

    Yes there are a lot of corporate dems but the repubs vote in lock step in congress to hold the party line where the dems have some differing positions.

    We need more than 2 parties but both of them conspire to keep others out. Bernie Sanders wanted more dem debates.

    Last election there were 21 democratic debates and it is now down to six.

    He also wanted to debate the Republicans.

    The DNC sold us out as did the RNC.

    It is a race to the bottom and all people weather in a union or not better stick together or the middle class will be gone in a generation.

    The repubs and some dems speak about no estate tax but they give reverse mortgages to the middle class homeowners who can’t pass their house on to their children.

    The laws are fixed.

    Too much money with Citizens United.

    Too many coproate owned media which only 5 corporations own our media.

    Tax breaks to businesses do not make them stay in a location.

    Rauner stopped tax giveaways to corporations now with no budget but okayed a big tax break to Amazon who will build a warehouse in Joliet.

    Even before the tax break Amazon was going to build it.

  20. I’m not sure, but it seems your reference talks about their being only one laborer on a truck.

    I believe that is in addition to the driver of the truck.

    That’s two employees.

    The trucks I see locally only have one employee.

    He drives the truck and loads up the garbage containers.

  21. Cal, Chicago has two laborers and one driver.

    Before this agreement they had a laborer, a driver and a supervisor.

    This is not about garbage trucks in Wonder Lake or here.

    Your article was about Chicago sanitation.

    Evert Evertson read this article-


    We have townships, cities, counties, school districts etc.

    We need a McHenry County police for the entire county.

    One school district for the entire county.

    One fire district for the entire county.

    This way their budgets could be clearly seen and administrative jobs would be eliminated.

    Why does each grade school and each high school in McHenry need all of the administrators.

    Why don’t they consolidate and hire more teachers who actually come in daily contact with the students?

    Fire departments already help each other in large fires and there would still be local fire stations but less administrative costs.

  22. That sounds like how my home county–Talbot County, Maryland–was organized.

    There would be, however, a huge negative impact to merging elementary with high school districts.

    Despite what Gov. Pat Quinn asserted, the money to be saved by having fewer administrators is much, much more overcome by the higher salaries that would end up being paid grade school teachers.

    You can read my analysis here.

    Even Associated Press eventually figured that out.

  23. Springfield created the rules to benefit Springfield not taxpayers.

    Let’s say the politicians really wanted to save money.

    What would they do.

    1. Any financial data except private information would be publicly available on a website without FOIA downloadable to a spreadsheet.

    2. All collective bargaining agreements would be subject to taxpayer approval.

    3. All budgets would be subject to taxpayer approval.

    4. Terminate defined benefit pensions, way too much taxpayer risk in that, level the playing field by putting them on Social Security plus a defined contribution plan which is what the private sector gets. Plus scale back hiked benefits. Before that can be done the pension sentence added to the state constitution on December 15, 1970 should be repealed in its entirety by placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

    Here is the sentence that should be repealed.

    “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

    That sentence resulted in hiked pension and retiree healthcare benefits and salaries and current benefits, not better funded pensions.

    The sentence does not work, get rid of it.

    And that’s just the beginning.

    As a general rule, and no doubt there might be some exceptions, making bigger units of government with the current rules will not result in any significant taxpayer savings overall and may very well increased costs.

    Public education is a train wreck, CPS is hopeless, it’s one of the worst run organizations anywhere.

    There are some talented people in Illinois government, public schools, etc., but all too often they are operating in a dysfunctional environment.

    And private sector executive pay in some of the huge companies is an issue and something should be done about it, that scale has tipped to far.

    Moreso than public or private its many people in general will take as much as they can, as long as they can, as long as its legal, until someone figures out a way to stop them.

    The lid has been off the candy jar way too long.

  24. you people have this all wrong.

    Chicago needs 3 people per truck………..

    One to drive, one to throw the garbage in the truck and one to call the police and an ambulance when the gangs start shooting.

  25. Response to karma: I am familiar with the Governing article you posted in a link.

    Just like the NWH article you referenced relative to State government employment, the Governing article cherry-picks the statistics and presents what I consider a deceitful picture of public sector employment.

    There is one method (even this has to be qualified as I do below) to compare government State to State and that is in total.

    For example, Hawaii reports zero for elementary and secondary education in the most recent statistics reported.

    Here are the top 20 states in public sector employment cost per capita: DC (highest), WY, NY, NJ, IL, CA, AK, NE, KS, MD, CT, WA, MA, MN, CO, IA, TX, OH, VA, WI

    Now let’s look at the top 20 state ranks in public sector employment relative to the population:

    DC, (highest) WY, KS, NY, NE, MS, TX, NC, VT, IL, AL, IA, ME, LA, GA, OH, AK, MO, VA, TN

    Note how Illinois drops from 5th to 10th due to the high salaries we pay in the public sector.

    Note Indiana is not in either list and WI is in one but not the other.

    A reason for residents to move?

    That is what the numbers show but readers need to understand the information the federal government posts is based on what the States report.

    The numbers are not 100 % accurate as evidenced by the failure of Hawaii to report any numbers for education.

    Any statistics offered by the federal government or any government agency are only as good as the data submitted.

    That said, any time you view federal government statistics, you need to read their definitions.

  26. Mark, I agree with “The lid has been off the candy jar way too long.”

    but I take exception to: “And private sector executive pay in some of the huge companies is an issue and something should be done about it, that scale has tipped to far.”

    We have far too much interference in the private sector already.

    Let the private sector ‘fallout’ occur in the private sector without government interference.

    I personally believe the government needs to get its ‘nose’ out of private industry and out of the sports / entertainment industries.

    You are spot on with your statement about our State Constitution.


  27. Cal, correct.

    They have no local school boards.

    The State runs the whole system.

    They have over 13,000 teachers for about 185,000 students but there are no employees posted in any education related field in the statistics reported by the U.S. Census.

    Blago tried to bring the single school board system to Illinois but there was phenomenal pushback from uno who.

  28. It’s private sector boards who approve CEO compensation not the government.

    A lot of people would be happy if the government overhauled the tax code though.

    It’s destabilizing to have huge pay hikes at the top achieved by giving scrawny or no pay hikes to the rank and file at the bottom; and / or huge pay hikes or bonuses achieved by cutting staff and working the rank and file ragged.

    That again is up to boards to be cognizant of what’s occurring, which would mean putting in more hours than a lot of them do to understand what’s occurring in the business, and actually getting out and talking to the rank and file.

    The same thing happens on a lot of corporate boards that happens in local school boards and other government boards, the boards are too trusting of the executives a lot of whom not surprisingly have as a primary goal to maximize personal pay and benefits.

    The whole notion of if costs are too high the business will fail applies but a little more thought needs to go into the equitability of compensation.

    Probably the biggest reasons we have too much regulation is the legislative processes are broken.

    It’s too easy to hide what’s in a bill.

    There is not enough time to vet bills.

    Too many bills and laws are passed.

    Over the decades the laws just keep piling up and little effort is made to clean out the file cabinet periodically.

  29. Those pushing back included yours truly.

    Consolidation of high and grade school districts would have resulted in raising grade school teachers’ salaries to high school levels.

    The extra cost in Crystal Lake High School District 155 would have been half the STATEWIDE savings in requiring fewer administrators, according to my analysis:

    Replay: School Consolidation Would Cost Taxpayers Plenty

    Even the Associated Press figured it out:

    AP Finally Figures Out Quinn’s School Consolidation Plan Will Raise Local Taxes Because of Increased Grade School Teachers’ Salaries

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