Sanitation Salvage, the embattled private trash hauling company responsible for two deaths and countless safety violations, has surrendered its license and is going out of business. The company announced the decision in a letter sent to the Business Integrity Commission this week, city officials said.
Run for decades by the politically-connected Squitieri brothers, the Bronx-based company had long evaded regulatory oversight, despite repeated complaints from employees about dangerous and exploitative working conditions. But the company came under intense scrutiny following a ProPublica expose earlier this year, which cast the three brothers as "profane taskmasters who push a small army of drivers and off-the-books workers through grueling shifts of 18 hours or longer."
The investigation also revealed a driver for the company, Sean Spence, had killed a 71-year-old pedestrian, Leo Clarke, and fellow employee Mouctar Diallo over a six month period. After running over the 21-year-old Diallo, Spence initially told police that his fellow off-the-books worker was a crazed homeless man who jumped on the back of the truck. Even after learning of the attempted cover-up, police did not charge Spence in either death.
The revelations galvanized the public and city council members, prompting the Business Integrity Commission to suspend the carter's license for a month this past summer. Their own probe found that drivers for the company had been involved in 58 crashes over the last three years, and that half of the company’s trucks have failed roadside inspections.
News of the company's demise was celebrated Tuesday by safe streets advocates, elected officials, and labor unions alike, with some also acknowledging that New Yorkers were still owed an explanation by police and regulators.
"It is clear that there were numerous failures by law enforcement agencies in the investigation of Mr. Diallo’s death and Sanitation Salvage’s role in it," said City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso. "However, I am pleased that today the City is delivering a measure of justice to Mr. Diallo’s family and ensuring that Sanitation Salvage can no longer terrorize our streets and its workers."
In a statement, Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813, added, "Sanitation Salvage had a long and undeniable track record of exploiting workers and endangering New Yorkers. We will partner with our union employers to make sure Sanitation Salvage's former workers have a good job where they will get the respect they deserve."
While Sanitation Salvage was likely the most egregious offender, a report issued this month by City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that aging trucks, reckless driving, and grueling labor conditions are pervasive throughout the private carting industry. On Wednesday, elected officials and community groups will hold a vigil on the steps of City Hall commemorating the deaths of Clarke and Diallo, and exploring next steps for reforming the city's commercial waste system.