D.C. Sanitation Worker’s Slaying Followed AFSCME’s Calls for More Security

October 26, 2010

Larry Hutchins, a member of  AFSCME Local 2091 (District Council 20), was killed on the job just one day after the local’s members complained to Department of Public Works (DPW) officials about the lack of security and inadequate lighting at several work sites, including the Washington, DC yard where the shooting occurred.

Hutchins, 51, of Suitland, Md., was a 24-year sanitation technician for the Public Works Department. Known to many as “Uncle Larry,” Hutchins was shot to death in the early morning hours of Oct. 13 at a sanitation lot in Northeast Washington by an unidentified assailant wearing some type of uniform, police said.

A second worker, who was not identified but also is a member of Local 2091, was wounded in the incident. That worker, in his late 50s, was later listed in good condition at an area hospital.

James Ivey, president of Local 2091 and an electrician for the DC Water and Sewer Authority, says city officials have refused to provide additional security at various Public Works facilities, citing budget constraints. “Most yards and buildings don’t have security,” he says, despite numerous security breaches, including one last year – at the same facility where Hutchins was killed – in which a worker was stabbed.

At the meeting with DPW officials which occurred before the fatal shooting, Local 2091 members cited a large spike in the number of workplace violence incidents. “But the response from the city’s representatives was inadequate,” says Donnell Pringle, a sanitation crew chief for the department who is also vice chapter chair of the local. “They said there was no money in the budget for them to continue to provide security at certain locations. It was almost as if something’s got to happen before they take it seriously.”

Then it did.

Immediately after the shooting, the district posted an armed guard at the front gate of the sanitation yard where Hutchins was killed, says Pringle, who hopes the city will now put up security barriers “to help make our workers feel safe.”

Ivey said Hutchins was “a highly-motivated employee, a good union member and a friend to many” who are now in shock over his death. The union plans to file a grievance over unsafe working conditions

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