Deadly trucks, and the Apparent Cover up of an Immigrant Worker’s Death
Steven Squitieri is the CEO of Sanitation Salvage, one of New York City’s largest private waste haulers and a dominant company in the Bronx.
On November 7, 2017, local news reported that a Squiteri-owned Sanitation Salvage truck struck and killed an unnamed “daredevil homeless man” early in the morning on Jerome Avenue. After months of investigation, Pro Publica reported that in fact the dead man was Mouctar Diallo, a 21-year old Guinean immigrant working for Sanitation Salvage as a “helper” who dragged bags and dumpsters to the street for collection and had been working on the truck on an informal basis for over a year.
Diallo’s death highlighted the practice of hiring vulnerable, off-the-books workers for low nightly lump sum wages in the private waste industry. A comprehensive 2016 study of the carting industry by Buro-Happhold Engineering found that licensed carters report employing four times as many drivers than helpers, and concluded “This tends to support suggestions from a variety of sources that practices such as treating helpers as “casual” employees (that is, day laborers), paying them off the books, or having them informally hired by individual drivers, are widespread.”
During a recent Business Integrity Commission hearing on the temporary suspension of Sanitation Salvage’s license, the company’s attorney Randy Mastro argued strenuously that Mr. Diallo was “a homeless person…who would sometimes be given a few bucks to run along with the truck” rather than an off-the-books employee. [See BIC Hearing Video at 9:24:20]