- Waste Management will be fined $72,454 for failure to fulfill its contractual trash pickup obligations. Omaha, Nebraska Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement on Friday, "We will continue monthly reviews of service-related complaints and assess additional financial penalties as allowed by our contract," as reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
- A portion of the fine, $28,454, is based on the number of complaints received from customers about their pickup services. The remaining $44,000 is for failing to pick up yard waste separately. The city received 1,609 general trash complaints in June. Of that figure, 365 were for yard waste issues.
- Last month, Waste Management received a $27,633.90 fine for ongoing missed collections. In the same period, the city received 1,227 waste and recycling complaints — which was over the allowable contract threshold — and 648 yard waste complaints. As of last month, only six out of 20 of the company's yard waste routes were staffed, a service that is contractually mandated from April through November.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, a Waste Management spokesperson said in a statement the "company has made 'exhaustive efforts' to provide the best service possible and meet the contract's requirements." However, the overall increase of customer complaints over the previous month is due to the company being unable to rectify its personnel shortage issues.
In late June, Waste Management announced it would offer a sign-on bonus of up to $6,500 for new CDL drivers in Omaha, and the company held a two-day job fair at its local headquarters in an attempt to spur interest. That appears to have paid off somewhat, as the company has added a driver to its payroll since last month, with 12 additional drivers in training. According to Waste Management, the company requires 97 drivers to handle the workload of separate yard waste collection everywhere in the city.
This issue can be traced back multiple years to Waste Management's 2015 acquisition of local company Deffenbaugh Industries, which had also reported hiring challenges. In April of this year, Waste Management said it would train additional drivers to provide separate yard waste collections in Omaha by early June. However, the city has indicated Waste Management failed to meet its deadline.
Waste Management's current contract expires at the end of 2020. Many collection companies are keeping a close eye on the estimated $100-million, 10-year RFP that Omaha is expected to release this year.