City Council candidate Sandra Ung and former sanitation commissioner and mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia, on Wednesday, April 7, called for a full restoration of sanitation services to serve businesses in Flushing that have been hit hard by the pandemic and now face the challenge of reopening.
Ung and Garcia were joined by sanitation workers and Harry Nespoli, president of Teamsters Local 831, whose union endorsed both candidates for office. The Uniformed Sanitation Men’s Association, Local 831 IBT, and its 6,700 members collect trash, recycling, and organic waste from New York City homes. Every winter, Local 831 Teamsters plow the streets to keep New York moving.
“We need a mayor who understands how the city works and will protect thousands of sanitation union members who showed up to work every single day during a global pandemic,” Nespoli said. “I know there will be no mayor who cares more about union workers and essential workers than Kathryn Garcia and no Council member more ready to stand by the people of her district to fight for their needs than Sandra Ung. They have proven their dedication to standing up for New Yorkers and the workers of sanitation.”
Despite recent announcements from City Hall that some previously cut sanitation services will be restored, small businesses in the outer boroughs are still facing the consequences of a lack of full sanitation services, including 40 percent fewer litter basket trucks than this same time last year.
With many New Yorkers spending more time outside during the pandemic, providing a safe and clean environment for local residents and tourists is critical for New York’s economic recovery. Both Sandra and Kathryn expressed their desire to see basic services adequately funded and stressed the need to focus on improving New Yorkers’ quality of life.
“Without fully prioritizing our essential city services we will not fully recover this pandemic,” Garcia said. “For our businesses to thrive, and our neighbors to come back we need to ensure that we are cleaning our streets and supporting our businesses as they reopen. The administration is taking a short-sided approach. We need to fully restore all the funding lost to sanitation and we need the city to invest in revitalizing our commercial districts in every borough.”
Garcia is also the former COO of the Department of Environmental Protection. She launched her candidacy with endorsements from every labor union she has managed, representing over 10,000 essential city workers. The daughter of a labor negotiator, she has been a lifelong supporter of labor rights and has spent her career as a public servant being accountable to 8.4 million New Yorkers every day.
Ung, who is running to represent Council District 20, which includes the neighborhoods of Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill and Queensboro Hill, said she is honored to receive Local 831’s endorsement and is thrilled to partner with New York’s strongest to protect workers in New York City.
“Whether it’s collecting trash or plowing snow, sanitation workers are essential frontline workers who have worked through the pandemic to keep our city running,” Ung said. “Protecting quality of life is one of my top priorities if elected to office – New Yorkers want and deserve cleaner streets. The budget cuts to DSNY have hit both Local 831’s members and our community hard. As our city recovers from the pandemic, I look forward to working with the Local 831 to get sanitation workers the funding and support they need from City Hall.”
For the last eight years, Ung has worked in Congresswoman Grace Meng’s office handling constituent services and community outreach operations. She previously worked as an attorney advocating for victims of domestic violence and has experience in both local and state government.