- Former Knox County, IL landfill employee Marty Short and local activist Jerry Ryberg filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board this week against the landfill management, claiming there was a longstanding history of a hostile work culture including verbal abuse, threats and harassment, and incidents of guns brought to work; the latter which was confirmed.
- Short said he quit his job in September out of fear, though union steward Bob Wagher claims Short was just a disgruntled employee. Chairman Brian Friedrich said he could not disclose case details, beyond stating Short was paid; the charges are currently considered accusations; and no official investigation has been launched.
- The Register-Mail article detailing the dispute went on to report that relationships with the landfill's customers have come into question, reporting on the loss of two contracts with Peoria-based scrap metal companies Allied Iron & Steel and Behr Iron & Metal, and reporting an alleged dispute with Waste Management. Ryberg has called for Administrator Jerry Reynolds to be fired, but Friedrich said Reynolds' job is not in jeopardy.
"The Knox County landfill has a long-standing 'culture' of loud, profane, bullying bosses, verbally abusing and threatening men, and sexually harassing women," according to the written complaint. Other employees shared similar testimony.
Friedrich said, "All these allegations are from ex-employees and no current employees. And we have talked to the employees and there is nothing like that going on there that we are aware of."
With regard to the two lost contracts with the scrap metal companies, they involved receiving waste from demolished cars, minus the metal, which Reynolds said became too costly to haul and store. The companies chose not to renew for a fee increase.
The county’s relationship with Waste Management also met scrutiny; when it was alleged that Reynolds undercut the company by putting out Knox County Landfill "roll-off boxes" when customers were using Waste Management's roll-off boxes.
Reynolds denied intentionally undercutting Waste Management, stating he simply wanted to provide options for customers — a claim others in the industry have made when the debate of choice versus dominance of one company has arisen.
"...We had customers who were calling us who were unhappy with their current service providers … They asked if we had roll-off boxes if we could do that and I said yeah if there's a need for it we might as well," said Reynolds.
The landfill has brought revenue to the county for years, and under Reynold’s controversial leadership, the facility’s lifespan has increased by more than a decade.