Florida union pushes back against truck cameras after pilot program
- Sanitation workers in St. Petersburg, FL are opposing plans to install cameras across the city's fleet, citing concerns about surveillance and job security, after using the devices during a pilot program. The city is set to begin a three-year, $200,000 contract with Lytx, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
- During a trial period that began in April 2016, drivers had 19 serious incidents and three were recorded by the in-cab cameras. Another 454 "coachable" incidents were also recorded, such as distracted driving and not using seatbelts.
- The Florida Public Services Union, which represents these workers, is backing this position in meetings with the city. They have also cited concerns about the camera wiring causing fires and said the expectations aren't fair because the city's police officers don't have to wear body cameras.
The growing use of cameras has raised questions among the labor community, though not usually in such a public fashion after a pilot program. Union officials say that St. Petersburg's drivers have safer records than their counterparts in nearby cities and that many of the recorded "coachable" incidents were minor or happened in city yards. Yet St. Petersburg's mayor has made this a priority during his reelection campaign, which indicates that the city may be hesitant to change course.
Similar questions were discussed during a safety symposium in New York last week, where many of the attendees have been investing in cameras over the past year. Industry executives said they try to emphasize the benefits that cameras provide to workers when faced with questions about surveillance or micro-management. In addition to the positive potential of these "coachable" incidents, they said one of the biggest selling points is to help exonerate drivers during accidents that weren't their fault. Large collection vehicles are sometimes seen as the automatic culprit in any incident when that may not always be the case.
Despite any potential wariness among drivers, the trend of fleets installing cameras appears likely to continue. Last year, the American Trucking Associations reported that technology accounted for 25% of the $9.5 billion in annual safety spending among fleet owners and some of the world's most advanced collection vehicles now include cameras as well.
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