A nationwide shortage of truck drivers is also being felt in the city of San Diego. That’s why the city is now offering signing bonuses for sanitation drivers.
“We need to provide incentives to encourage folks to take these positions which are critical to the operation of the city,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “And we will make similar efforts if we deem them as being necessary for other impacted occupations.”
The city points to the nationwide truck driver shortage, worsened by the pandemic, which has forced local drivers to work longer hours and collect additional waste along their routes.
“As one of the largest employers in our region, the city has experienced impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the demand for qualified drivers, similar to what’s happening on a national level,” San Diego Chief Operating Officer, Jay Goldstone said. “The city offers competitive benefits and opportunities for our employees to advance their careers. Now, we will have even more of a competitive advantage in attracting new talent for these key positions.”
On top of that, the city will soon need to meet new state requirements to reduce organic waste that's sent to landfills. To meet that goal, sanitation drivers, represented by Local 127, have been working longer hours and collecting an increased tonnage of waste on their routes, the city said.
Local 127 President Rodney Fowler told NBC 7 that low wages and benefits have a huge impact on getting younger employees to stay; equating it to being in an uncommitted relationship where workers are constantly looking over their shoulder for something better.
When asked about retention issues, interim Environmental Services Deputy Director Conrad Wear said the department is working on a special salary adjustment for sanitation workers.
“These are very hard-working employees of the City of San Diego who go in, day in and day out to pick up our waste or recycling in our greenery and their wages have increased 4% in the last year. But we believe that additional raises could be in order,” Wear said.
The department also wants to create an internal rewards program but didn’t say what that could look like.
The first 100 sanitation new hire drivers, will receive a $2,500 signing bonus. Half will be paid upfront, the other half after one year of service.
Sanitation drivers aren’t the only ones getting incentives.
On Tuesday, the city council also approved a 10% salary increase to help recruit pool guards.
“Making sure our municipal pools are staffed with well-trained employees is our number one priority, and the lack of pool guards has severely hindered our ability to keep our facilities open to meet the needs of the community,” Parks and Recreation Director Andy Field said. “These pay increases will help the City be a more competitive and attractive place for people looking for their first job or hoping to start their career in the public sector. We encourage everyone to explore the wide variety of Parks and Recreation employment opportunities the City has to offer.”
According to the city’s job portal, sanitation drivers can start out making $36,982.40 to $44,012.80 a year. Some employees also qualify for a 4% wage increase in July.
You must be fully vaccinated against covid-19 before your start date or have a medical or religious exemption.