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El Monte asked to reconsider its relationship with American Reclamation

Several speakers, during the public portion of January 8’s El Monte City Council meeting, requested that the City review its relationship with the waste and recycling company American Reclamation.
American Reclamation was given 36 citations in May of 2012 by Cal/OSHA, said UCLA-Labor Occupational Health and Safety Program (LOSH)’s representative Andrea Nicholls, after an investigation into the conditions at American Reclamation’s Atwater recycling facility. “As far as we know nothing has been done to correct the violations,” said Nicholls, while the City of El Monte continues to have contracts with the outfit.
American Reclamation sends their employees to work in inadequate protective gear, added Tanya Akel, also with LOSH, which may result in the loss of lives, just as it happened to the Ramirez brothers in Kern County. According to an article in The Bakersfield Californian, “16-year-old Armando Ramirez died from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas while cleaning a storm drain gutter at the Community Recycling & Resource Recovery facility in Lamont, near Bakersfield. Ramirez’s 22-year-old brother also died from the fumes while trying to save him.”
Eight American Reclamation workers also attended the meeting. It was Margarita Castro’s third time in front of the El Monte City Council. “Things have not changed much,” she said, “work conditions are dangerous, we work without benefits and threatened.” She added that the company continues to put obstacles towards the creation of an employee union.
“Last June I was here to talk to you about our problems,” added an American Reclamation employee named Victor. And the exploitation continues, he added. Trucks go more than a month without being serviced and become dangerous to the workers and to the cities they serve.
A few other residents and agency representatives, including Greg Good, director of Don’t Waste LA, spoke to reiterate their desire for the City of El Monte to reconsider its relationship with American Reclamation and to recommend that the City demand proof of any steps taken towards preserving the health and safety of its work force and the residents of the cities that contract it.

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