The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Investigative Fund reporter Kiera Feldman’s collaboration with ProPublica, “Trashed: Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection,” is the winner of the Sidney Award for February. The monthly honor recognizes “outstanding journalism that fosters social and economic justice.”
While New York City’s residential trash is hauled away by the city, trash thrown away by businesses is collected by private companies. Feldman joined private sanitation workers on their night shifts for her investigation into their perilous working conditions. Often lacking union representation, they work longer hours — regularly clocking 10- to 14-hour shifts, six days a week — and make less money.
They also have the fifth most fatal job in America: crushed by dumpsters, slashed by glass, run over after falling from trucks, and dealing with brake and steering failures on ancient vehicles. Drivers aren’t the only casualties. In New York City overall, private sanitation trucks killed seven people in 2017. By contrast, city municipal sanitation trucks haven’t caused a fatality since 2014.
“This story drew attention to spectacular abuses that are taking place in plain sight,” said Sidney judge Lindsay Beyerstein, “This reporting calls attention to the need for reform in the private carting industry to protect workers and the public.”
After the story’s publication, Mayor DeBlasio pledged to come up with new safety guidelines for private sanitation workers.
Read more about the Sidney Award here.