Montgomery County plans full audit of trash company -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County plans to conduct a more complete investigation of the pay practices of a Gaithersburg trash company whose workers went on strike last month.

The county will move forward with a full audit of Potomac Disposal, one of the county’s three trash collectors and the company at the center of a three-day strike in September after workers claimed the company tried to intimidate them during labor negotiations by threatening checks of employees’ immigration statuses.

An initial investigation by a firm hired by the county showed that Potomac failed to meet the county’s living wage requirement of $13.65 an hour on 6 percent of payment transactions on a sample of 33 workers between April 1 and June 30, according to a report released by the county Thursday.

The result of the study was to see if there was enough cause for a deeper investigation, said David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services.

Six percent may not seem like a lot, but it was enough to raise concern with the county, he said.

“We still think there’s sufficient reason to conduct an audit,” Dise said.

The county has said it also plans to audit its other two trash collectors as part of due diligence.

Officials at Potomac Disposal could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

A full audit usually takes several weeks, and will include going through the company’s pay records employee-by-employee and payroll-by-payroll, Dise said.

Nicole Duarte, a spokeswoman for LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition, which represented the workers in the labor negotiations, said Thursday that the county’s move toward a full audit underscores the need for representation to make sure the workers get paid a living wage.

Many of the trash collectors make about $19,000 a year, she said.

“These are not highly-paid individuals,” she said.