Objections raised to removal of diversity subcontract for Fort Worth trash collection

The Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce are denouncing the city council’s recent decision to remove a requirement for minority owned businesses to be included in the city’s waste management contract.

The city council voted 9-2 on May 14 to remove a requirement that Waste Management, the company that handles trash collection for the city, subcontract 25 percent of its business to local minority- and women-owned businesses.

Waste Management’s contract was signed in 2021 and is worth $479 million for 12 years. It had been fulfilling the requirement with a subcontract with Knight Waste Services, but cited extensive problems with missed traffic pickups by the company.

The Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said in a prepared statement that it was aware of performance concerns surrounding waste services but had not been informed about the removal of the diversity component of the contract until it was too late to act. After meeting with city officials, they learned the contract was a losing situation for both Waste Management and Knight Waste Services.

“However, as the city’s partner in MWBE (minority- and women-owned business enterprises) advocacy, we believe we should have been notified and given the opportunity to discuss alternative solutions and/or identify other MWBE firms,” Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said.

The Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce shared the same critique in a prepared statement, saying “it opposes any actions which would diminish our city’s commitment to include MWBE language in contracts with the city.”

“While the Black Chamber is encouraged by the city’s reaction to our concerns, we also understand that we and other leaders in the minority community must remain vigilant to ensure Fort Worth will diligently work to fulfill its commitment – indeed, its promise – regarding its commitment ‘to advancing opportunities for minority-owned businesses through Business Equity,’” said Michelle Green-Ford, president and CEO of the Black Chamber in a prepared statement.

A presentation by city staff on May 7 showed the shortcomings of trash collections.

Last year, Waste Management and its affiliates attempted an average of 1.1 million trash or recycling collections each month and missed an average of 1,600 pick-ups, roughly 1.52 botched collections per 1,000 accounts; the benchmark ratio for good service is below 1 in 1,000.

District 4 residents reported 3,476 missed pick-ups last year on the MyFW App, according to data compiled by Council member Charlie Lauersdorf’s office. Knight Waste Services picked up routes in North Fort Worth in recent years, but the presentation did not break down down collection ratios by firm. This led to Council member Charlie Lauersdorf to spearhead the idea to remove the diversity requirement for minority- and women-owned business enterprises to improve trash collection.

The two dissenters in the vote, Jared Williams and Chris Nettles, feared it would set a bad precedent for future contract disputes.

Both chambers of commerce said in their statements that they were satisfied with the city’s commitment to foster and build equitable business opportunities for minority- and women-owned enterprises even after the latest city council decision.