Chicago Mayor Emanuel Requests Stricter Supervision Of City Workers After Car Accident

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week of Mayor Rham Emanuel’s reaction to a dangerous car accident caused by a city sanitation worker who was alleged to have been driving drunk at the time of the car crash. Mayor Emanuel met with Streets and Sanitation head, Tom Byrne, and requested tighter supervision of city workers who drive vehicles. Specifically, Emanuel noted, “one of the things I said to Commissioner Byrne was I want to know what steps need to be taken so, in the future, this does not occur again — both at the level of management and at the level of employees,” Emanuel said.  “You take these moments, you deal with them and there are lessons learned for future. And I’ve directed Commissioner Byrne to come back with recommendations.”

Simply firing the city worker involved in this car accident is not enough for the new mayor. The worker in question, Dwight Washington, is accused of driving with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system after allegedly plowing his city vehicle into a crowd of people in the Gold Coast neighborhood, injuring eight (8).  Emanuel would like to see specific steps to help prevent this type of accident happening again by also making sure people take the proper driving lessons to obtain a license.

Random drug and alcohol tests are required only for city employees who hold commercial drivers licenses. Because Washington was a laborer assigned to empty garbage cans and collect stray debris, he was not subject to that requirement.

Laborers are tested only after getting into accidents on the job. Washington was tested after a job-related accident in March 2010 that resulted in property damage, but his test for drugs and alcohol “came back negative,” said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the Streets and Sanitation Department.

“Random drug [and alcohol] testing for laborers would have to be negotiated with the union. The city cannot implement the tests unilaterally,” Smith said in an e-mail response to the Chicago Sun-Times.

It will be interesting to see what types of recommendations that Commissioner Byrne will have for the mayor and the city counsel. As mentioned above, it may not be see easy to require stricter testing without negotiating that change through its’ contract with the union. And that change may not take place until the current contract expires and a new contract is negotiated.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at