Striking Philadelphia garbage collectors defied a back-to-work order today, while Detroit's mayor threatened court action to end a 2-day-old municipal walkout by 7,000 workers in the Motor City.
Trash haulers, told to be on the job at 9 a.m., showed up at Philadelphia's six garbage truck depots but refused to report for work, said the city's deputy managing director, Ken Arrington.
Mounds of garbage have been accumulating at 15 emergency dumps set up by the city during the 17-day strike, and Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Blake ruled Wednesday that the trash was a threat to public health and ordered the haulers back to work.
Today, he also ordered about 850 employees at health and social service centers to report to work immediately. City lawyers had argued that those workers' absence also posed a threat to public health.
200 at Depot
About 200 trash haulers showed up this morning at a truck depot on the Delaware River waterfront. No one moved when a supervisor opened the gate.
"Does anybody want to come in and go to work?" the supervisor asked.
There were a few half-hearted "no's." One striker shouted, "Ain't no contract, man!"
"There are pickets at every depot," Arrington said, adding that there were no reports of union members crossing the line.
The city's next step would be to explain to the workers that pickets cannot legally stop them from reporting to work, he said. If the workers continue to stay out, they will be reported to the streets commissioner, he said.
Mayor W. Wilson Goode has said he will dismiss the strikers if they persist in refusing to return to work.
About 12,000 members of District Councils 33 and 47 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees walked out July 1 in the nation's fifth largest city over wages and benefits. About 2,400 of them are sanitation workers.
District Council 47 ratified its contract Saturday, but some members have stayed off the job in sympathy.
In Detroit, the 2-day-old strike by 7,000 city workers, including clerks, garbage collectors, mechanics and others, halted local bus service for 200,000 commuters.
Garbage has begun mounting up in the streets at a rate estimated at 5 million pounds daily, the zoo has been closed, and water and sewer services may be affected if the strike drags on, city officials warned.
Young Will Go to Court
Mayor Coleman Young repeated today that he would go to court to force striking members of AFSCME who perform critical functions to return to work. The union is the largest representing Detroit's 18,000 public employees.
The union is seeking a 26% pay increase over three years. The city has offered 2% the first year with future increases based on the city's financial health.
The average city worker earns about $16,000 per year, union negotiator Flora Walker said. She said most city workers make between $15,000 and $21,000 per year.
No negotiations have been held since the strike began Wednesday, and none were scheduled.