Not too many people wake up at 3:30am to start their workday, but this is what Johnny Robles does every day as a roll off driver for United Pacific Waste. Johnny is in charge of picking up and dropping off roll off containers at construction and work sites across Los Angeles County. Although he is a 16 year veteran of the waste and sanitation industry, and has plenty of experience, Johnny knows that his life is on the line every day at work. “We work in a very dangerous industry. We drive large vehicles for long periods of time and driving conditions can be very dangerous, especially when it rains. I have hurt myself by stepping on nails that are in the containers that I have dropped off and I risk falling when I have to climb on the containers.”
Pressure to work faster for extended periods of time is also another issue that many sanitation workers including Johnny face. “There have been times that I have been pressured to work faster and it’s stressful and dangerous. If you are rushing, you can forget safety procedures. I have to be careful because my commercial driver’s license is my tool, it’s what I use to feed my family.”
Johnny has joined his co workers at United Pacific Waste to organize for a voice on the job because he knows that only by coming together, they will be able to collectively improve their benefits and working conditions. “By lifting work and safety standards in this industry, we will also be able to make a better living for our families. I want to be able to send my kids to college so that they can have opportunities that I never had.” Lifting standards in this large and growing industry will not only benefit men like Johnny Robles, it will benefit customers who depend on getting their waste disposed of on a daily basis, by providing them with a workforce that is professional and dependable.