The humble labor of the sanitation worker.

LA’s recycLA policy honors fathers in our sanitation industry

  • 06/16/2018
  • Reporters Desk

By Brandon Anthony, RLn Contributor

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring the important and sometimes thankless role that fathers play in our lives. On this Father’s Day, I’d like to talk about how my father, Sylvester Anthony, has defined how fathers are heroes both inside and outside of our home.
My father has lived a life of sacrifice, in which he raised me and my brothers and sisters. Because of his hard work and sacrifice, I was able to go through college and graduate with a degree in marketing and communications, and begin pursuing dreams of my own. My life would not be nearly as plentiful without the presence of my father, and it’s safe to say that he’s my personal hero.
But beyond my personal family, he’s a hero for our local communities as well, as my father is a proud sanitation worker. The waste industry can feel like an invisible part of our society, operated by a mostly invisible workforce, as most people simply place their trash in a dumpster, or roll their waste bin to the curb, where it magically disappears.
What’s often forgotten is the role that sanitation workers like my dad play in our day to day lives. If a waste worker isn’t able to do their job, there is the threat of the spread of disease from unsanitary conditions that will inevitably result from trash piling up. But even broader, if the sanitation worker isn’t able to do their job, then our environmental movement is doomed, as sanitation workers are the first point of contact for our environmental goals, as they are responsible for keeping our recyclable materials out of landfills. These workers do the thankless job of collecting and sorting through our trash– which includes broken glass, needles, dead animals, and other unsanitary items—and pulling out recyclable materials in order to help preserve our earth’s natural resources, and diminish our dependence on land-filling. It’s not glamorous work, but it is work that uplifts our entire society.
Our fathers in the waste industry are heroes, and deserve our respect. They help save our planet while at work, and then help save their families when they return from work. Sadly, the waste industry is the fifth-most dangerous industry in the nation, and that negatively impacts our fathers in waste, who don’t ask for much other than to be acknowledged, treated fairly, and to be guaranteed the ability to return to their families at the end of their shift.
Thankfully, in Los Angeles, our fathers in waste are being treated right due to LA’s bold, precedent setting recycLA policy, which guarantees all waste workers a living wage, benefits, and safety standards that allow all of our fathers to return home safely to their families, where they can utilize their superman powers to carry their families forward.
Thanks to the safety standards included in recycLA, I know that my father will be safe on the job, and that my family, in addition to all families headed by a sanitation worker, will be able to celebrate Father’s Day with our loved one for years to come. It’s a right that every family should have the opportunity to do.
Brandon Anthony is the son of Sylvester Anthony, a Los Angeles County sanitation worker for the last 30 years. Brandon Anthony works in marketing and communications. He resides in Corona, California.

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