“Like we say in the sewer, ‘Time and tide wait for no man,'” Ed Norton, aka Art Carney, was fond of saying in The Honeymooners, and today arrives twin good news for Norton’s hard-working successors in the city sewage system. The Times carries a half-page story giving vent to the daily indignities faced by the city’s waste process workers. “I’ve been knee-deep in raw sewage at 7:15 in the morning, and let me tell you it don’t smell like Folgers in your cup,” a sewer veteran tells reporter Russ Buettner. The workers and union leaders also raged about their failure to get a raise in the last 15 years.
But in a happy ending that would have made a great Honeymooners episode, it turns out that city negotiators worked overtime this week and came up with a deal that leaders of Local 1320 of the NYC Sewage Treatment & Senior Sewage Treatment Workers found acceptable. A ratification meeting has been set for March 23, where members will vote up or down on a contract that hikes wages to $35 an hour for most workers. The deal also calls for cuts in sick leave and elimination of a 15-minute break among other changes.
Whatever the downside, it’s better than getting laid off, the way Norton was in one show. As he put it: “Seventeen years in the sewers! And now everything’s down the drain!”