UPDATE: June 29, 2018: Waste Management announced it will offer a sign-on bonus of up to $6,500 for new CDL drivers in Omaha to combat the personnel shortage there, reports KETV 7. The company will hold a two-day job fair today and tomorrow at its local headquarters, with managers present to hold interviews.
- Omaha, Nebraska Mayor Jean Stothert's office has notified Waste Management that it will be subject to $27,633.90 in fines for ongoing missed collections. "Waste Management needs to own this problem,” said Stothert in a statement. “We’ve been patient for four years. There is a shortage of CDL drivers, I understand that, but Waste Management needs to abide by the contract.”
- During May, the city received 1,227 waste and recycling complaints — which was over the allowable contract threshold — and 648 yard waste complaints. Currently, only six out of 20 of the company's yard waste routes are staffed. That service is contractually obligated from April through November.
- Waste Management told Waste Dive it plans to "fully comply with the City’s required deadline of June 29," while noting ongoing concerns with the collection system. "We have been transparent with City officials since we inherited this residential contract that the long-term solution is to move towards a modernized, automated collection program that limits the volume of solid waste set out by residents to reasonable weekly quantities," wrote spokesperson Lisa Disbrow via email.
The service shortfall, stemming from an industrywide lack of CDL drivers, continues to be a challenge for the Omaha market. As seen earlier this year in Los Angeles, Waste Management is willing to bring in outside drivers or mechanics to fill these gaps temporarily. The company has also done this in Omaha, but doesn't view that as a "sustainable" long-term solution.
Waste Management has been actively trying new recruitment tactics, including large bonuses for experienced drivers on top of the companywide $2,000 bonus expected at the end of this year, but the situation remains tight.
When asked whether this had made a difference, Disbrow said, "We have seen some positive results from offering bonuses, along with significantly increased drivers wages and providing training to help employees earn their CDL licenses. The biggest hurdle to be overcome in the competitive Omaha labor market is retaining qualified CDL drivers due to the collection of unlimited yard waste volumes as part of this inherited antiquated solid waste program."
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 Omaha is expected to release this year.