Long Beach is offering cash incentives and holding a hiring fair later this month in an effort to end the driver shortage that’s caused delayed or irregular trash pickups around the city since the spring.
Unfilled positions, workers out for illness or injuries, and the fact that some trucks require two workers to operate instead of just one have combined to leave some routes unstaffed on any given day.
Public Works Department officials have been trying to fill the gap with overtime, but the situation is expected to improve this month, with about 13 new hires starting by the end of July and another 18 people who will be getting job offers, Deputy Public Works Director Diko Melkonian said.
Also, the union representing current refuse truck drivers recently agreed that the city can bring employees from other departments with similar qualifications over to drive trash routes, he said.
The goal for the July 22 hiring fair is to bring about 30 more people on board, Melkonian said. The department “will be in a terrific place if we can get that.”
Hiring bonuses—Long Beach is offering up to $6,000 paid in three installments, with the last one after a year and a half on the job—are common in the private sector, and “in this work environment, it’s quite necessary,” he said.
A shortage of refuse truck drivers, and commercial drivers more broadly, is an industry-wide problem, but Melkonian hopes to get back to regularly scheduled trash pickups soon.
“We appreciate everybody’s patience during this time,” he said. “I know this poses challenges for residents and businesses, but we are on the right track—we are onboarding people, we are getting support from the union, so I only see this continuing to go in the right direction.”
The refuse operator hiring event is from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 22, at 2525 Grand Ave.
For information on pay scales, hiring bonus, what records and documents to bring to the event, or to RSVP, go here.
The city continues to advise customers to leave their cans out if the trash isn’t collected on the regular pickup day. If it gets skipped the next day, call the Environmental Services Bureau at 562-570-2876 to schedule a pickup.