Sanitation crews ended their 18-day strike this morning by attacking about 80 million pounds of rain-soaked garbage heaped in emergency dumps around Philadelphia.
The "vast majority" of the city's 2,500 trash collectors have returned to work, according to Alfred Dezzi of the city's Emergency Operations Center.
Mayor W. Wilson Goode had said he would fire garbage collectors who were on strike after 7 a.m. Their contract has not been settled, although Chief City Solicitor Handsel Minyard said this morning that informal talks have resumed between the city and the union, District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The shop stewards of the Sanitation Workers' Local 427, which is part of District Council 33, defied the council by voting to end the strike. Their decision followed the mayor's threat and two court rulings against the striking garbage collectors.
Also on Friday, Common Pleas Court Judge Edward J. Blake held District Council 33 in contempt for not obeying a back-to-work order based on the emergency dumps' alleged danger to the public.
Goode said the garbage collectors will work "all weekend and on Monday" to clear city-designated dumps, then clean up trash dumped illegally around the city before resuming normal collections.
Dezzi said the city has persuaded landfill owners to keep their facilities open Sunday so the cleanup can continue.
Earl Stout, president of District Council 33, said Friday night that he was "very disappointed" at the stewards' decision to end the strike. "I was hoping they would hang in there a little longer so that we could have some leverage."
District Council 33 represents 11,130 city blue-collar workers, of whom about 2,500 are garbage collectors. District 47 of AFSCME, which includes 2,220 white-collar city workers, also struck on July 1. District Council 47 has settled its contract, although many of its workers were off the job this week because they did not cross District Council 33 picket lines.
James White, managing director of the city, said 83 percent of District Council 47 workers and 29 percent of District Council 33 employes were on the job Friday.
Stout said the city is offering his union a wage increase similar to the one negotiated by District Council 47, providing for 10 percent over two years. The average annual salary for Philadelphia garbage collectors is now about $17,000.