Employees involved in an apparent “sick out” Tuesday have been placed on paid administrative leave, a local labor advocate confirmed.
Wesley Young, president of the local public works employee advocacy group, said that at least some of the 21 workers who called in sick Tuesday have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Administration officials have not yet returned a request for comment on this new development, but city spokeswoman Laura Byrne wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon that 21 employees called in sick, “but returned to work” Wednesday.
“There is a rigorous internal review process involving personnel,” Byrne wrote. “As we resolve these internal issues, we are mobilizing additional city personnel to assist the trash department and are exploring commercial options to supplement these efforts.”
It was announced to the Mobile City Council during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting that a number of public works employees had either called in sick, or left their positions. Employees came to the council meeting that day to complain about mistreatment, some of which they said was racially motivated.
A video recording from Tuesday morning’s livestream of the City Council meeting shows the Rev. Sanders Mason III, an Operator 3 within the sanitation department, telling councilors public works employees are “overworked, due to the shortage of employment, employees and equipment.”
“Even at that, we work in 100-degree temperatures and rain and manage to keep the city clean,” he said.
He told councilors the employees are dealing with a hostile work environment and the department is “managed unprofessionally.”
“The supervisor in charge is a workplace bully and he’s trying to be intimidating,” Mason said. “There’s a film to corroborate all of this, if it hasn’t been destroyed.”
Councilors have since called for an investigation into these claims. The administration “welcomes” an investigation, city attorney Ricardo Woods said.
At the meeting, public works employees publicly thanked councilors for the 5 percent raises added to the 2019 budget.