Newby Island Landfill Owes Workers Millions in Back Pay

Republic Services, the company that runs Newby Island landfill, owes its workers nearly $2.6 million in back pay, according to San Jose’s city attorneys.

The amount makes up the discrepancy between what Republic employees were earning—San Jose’s $10 minimum hourly wage—and what they should have earned under a local policy that requires companies doing business with the city to pay what’s called a living wage. The living wage during the time in question ranged from $15.98 to $17.03 an hour. That means each of the non-unionized 193 employees identified by the city should get a check to the tune of $13,396 for time worked since 2011.

But the second-largest solid waste recycling company in the world has been dragging its feet. Republic contested the city’s notice of violation in December and asked to confer with the Public Works director, a meeting that has yet to be scheduled. If the landfill operators fail to cooperate, the city may take the matter to court.

“Should Republic fail to comply within the time required by the public works director, the city reserves all rights to take appropriate enforcement action,” Nina Grayson, head of the city’s Office of Equality Assurance, told San Jose Inside.

Republic spokesman Russ Knocke dismissed the city’s claims of a violation.

“We believe we are in full compliance with our service agreement with the city and with city policies,” he said. “Our working relationship with all of the parties involved in the management of materials coming into the Newby Island facility has and will continue to be productive and mutually beneficial.”

Beneficial for all but the underpaid employees, who work without benefits in difficult conditions for half of what sorters earn at comparable companies, say reps from Teamsters Local 350, a local sanitation workers union.

"This company ought to be ashamed of itself," John Brouchard, of Local 350, wrote for a local labor blog, "skirting the law [and] flaunting it in the face of the 10th largest city in America."

H/T The Left Hook

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. We recently received a letter from the City of San Jose notifying us of yet another rate increase for curbside trash and recycling services. The City goes to great pains in this letter to tell us it’s not their fault, that it’s just the amount needed to cover the costs.
    Yet here we see the City, as usual, working diligently to increase those costs. Taxpayers are paying an army of city attorneys to toil away making sure Republic’s costs are increased. Republic will pass these costs on to San Jose’s taxpayers and ratepayers- to US, the very people whose interests they should be representing.
    San Jose’s taxpayers and ratepayers play second fiddle to just about any special interest group, including labor, that comes along and catches the fancy of our leftist councilsheep.

    • Need to practice some math before you complain about the workers. $2.6 million is for three years and prorated would increase your garbage rate by roughly eight cents per month. Don’t know how big your garbage can is but most increases are five dollars per month. And the $2.6 million is the amount the company owes the workers, not you owe the city.

  2. “our leftist council sheep…” That’s a good one. Not sure how you can blame the minority for the decisions that the majority make.

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