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AVs a Nuisance, Potential Serious Hazard for Bay Area Sanitation Workers

(SAN FRANCISCO) —Teamsters Local 350, which represents all of the sanitation workers in San Francisco, is calling on the autonomous vehicle (AV) company Cruise to take measures to prevent more alarming incidents with its vehicles from occurring in the city. The union is making the demand following numerous instances of Cruise AVs blocking waste and recycling trucks, including a notable incident at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Hayes Street.


“Even though we don’t think that the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles should be in the business of regulating AVs, we were happy to see the agency’s request to Cruise that it reduce its fleet by 50 percent in San Francisco,” said John Bouchard, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 350. “That being said, further action needs to be taken. In addition to creating problems for our members, Cruise vehicles have gotten stuck in wet cement,caused a massive traffic jam outside of a music festival, and collided with a fire truck – all since the California Public Utilities Commission granted unlimited expansion for these vehicles less than two weeks ago. These companies need to get their act together – either include human operators or withdraw from SanFrancisco until we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no more incidents will occur.”


“We work late at night or early in the morning to avoid interfering with traffic, but now AV traffic is interfering with us,” said Israel Enriquez, the Local 350 member who filmed the Hayes Street incident. “I was blocked by three Cruise AVs on a three-lane, one-way street. It’s a tricky intersection, but a human driver would have the intuition to go around me without causing a problem. AVs apparently can’t do that.”


“These vehicles regularly block me from reaching customers on my route,” said Quentin Booker, another Local 350 waste truck driver. “They force motorists to drive defensively to avoid colliding with them. It’s not just an inconvenience, it’s an impediment to commercial drivers like me who are serving in roles that are essential for our community.”


Founded in 1936, Sanitary Truck Drivers & Helpers Teamsters Local 350 represents workers throughout the waste industry and public sector in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Benito Counties. For more information, go to teamsters350.com