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Dispute over garbage-truck driver breaks may prove costly

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Pasadena Public Works trash trucks collect garbage and yard waste on October 10, 2008 in Pasadena, California. California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has warned that California cash revenues will run out by the end of the month. If that happens, 5,000 California cities, counties, and school districts will face job layoffs and payments for law enforcement agencies, nursing homes, teachers, and other services and government entities could be suspended. A worldwide credit crunch threatens to derail state plans for a routine 7 billion dollar loan to even out the tax flow into the state treasury. Just two weeks after state lawmakers came to agreement, after months of haggling on a record-overdue state budget, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is warning of future cuts to the state budget to deal with skyrocketing financial problems. A frozen credit market and revenues for the first quarter of the fiscal year that fell more than a billion dollars short of previous projections are causing the governor and state legislative leaders scrabbling to deal with a new budget mess.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
Pasadena Public Works trash trucks collect garbage and yard waste on October 10, 2008 in Pasadena, California.

The L.A. City Council moved ahead with plans to end an 8-year class action lawsuit over garbage-truck driver breaks, to the tune of $26 million. The settlement comes after a long battle over restrictions placed on drivers breaks.

The L.A. City Council moved ahead with plans to end an 8-year class action lawsuit over garbage-truck driver breaks, to the tune of $26 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The settlement comes after a long battle over restrictions placed on drivers breaks. To avoid the misconception that drivers were sleeping on the job, trash truck drivers were forbidden from napping during their breaks. Drivers were also prohibited from congregating near restaurants or parking in groups.

In his interview with David Zahniser, Matthew Taylor, the lawyer representing the drivers, argues that because their breaks were employer-controlled, they should have been paid for that time. Some City Council members, including Councilman Paul Krekorian argue that seeing a large group of garbage trucks or a sleeping city worker would be “an affront” to constituents. The settlement, backpay for nine years of breaks for over 1,000 drivers, averages about $15,000 per person.

Should garbage truck drivers be allowed to do whatever they want on their breaks? How should they be compensated? what’s appropriate behavior in these circumstances?

Guests: 

David Zahniser, LA Times reporter covering Los Angeles City Hall, local government

Michael Waterstone, Associate Dean for Research and Academic Centers, J. Howard Ziemann Fellow and Professor of Law at Loyola Law School

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