GFL Environmental’s sale causes communications snafu with local Macomb officials – The Macomb Daily

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This version of the article clarifies that GFL’s workers will be terminated as a result of the sale, but will be offered open jobs with Priority Waste.

An abrupt sale of trash collection services in the metro Detroit area has some Macomb County government leaders saying they were not informed of the pending transaction.
Clinton Township-based Priority Waste plans to purchase GFL Environmental residential waste collection services. The move, scheduled to be finalized June 30, will affect about 700,000 residents across southeast Michigan.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
In a May 29 letter to employees that was leaked online, GFL said the sale includes the transfer of contracts with 75 municipalities, as well as 70,000 homeowners’ associations and subscription residential customers in Oakland, Washtenaw, Livingston, Macomb, Genesee and Wayne counties.
Priority Waste spokesperson Matt Allen said the announcement was made to employees of both companies last week and to media covering the Mackinac Policy Conference before being released to Detroit-area media.
If approved, the move will make Priority Waste the largest waste hauler in the state.
GFL’s 800 workers will be terminated in the transition but they will be invited to interview for several hundred of the open positions to fill Priority Waste’s roster, Allen said.
“We are taking GFL’s contracts and equipment with the purchase,” he said. “Their employees will be allowed to interview for new positions with Priority Waste. We’re not sure of the exact number of positions, but it will be substantial.”
.As a result of the sale, Priority Waste will acquire approximately 500 trucks and other equipment.
“We will be providing more employees and greater service to our existing customers and our new ones,” Allen said.
Some Macomb communities, such as Sterling Heights, are already on board with Priority Waste. The City Council this past March agreed to switching waste haulers from GFL Environmental to the new company in a  move represented to save the city a $23 million savings over the course of the 10-year agreement.
Eastpointe and Mount Clemens have also switched over.
But others say they’ve only learned about the transaction through social media reports.
Macomb Township officials said last week that they have not received any official communication from either company despite reaching out to both. The township currently has a waste-hailing contract with GFL.
In neighboring Clinton Township, Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said Monday it was “very unfortunate” for township officials to learn of the sale from social media posts rather than the contracted service provider.
“This failure to officially communicate with their community partners casts a cloud of doubt over both companies, and their commitment to providing the good faith public services to our residents,” Gieleghem said in a news release.
According to the release, Clinton Township is the largest township and the seventh largest municipality by population in the state of Michigan, and one of the largest GFL customers for residential waste hauling services.
Gielegehem, the chair of the town’s Refuse Committee, said companies that “partner with municipalities have a higher level of responsibility to provide open, honest and transparent communication to the communities they serve.”
Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said he received a phone call from a GFL official May 29, but wasn’t able to immediately take it. Since then, Cannon said, the two have exchanged numerous calls without being able to connect.
Cannon assumes the call was to officially notify the township of the sale.
“I will say this — GFL has done a fabulous job at a good price. They’ve been as good a contractor as you could have,” he said, adding he will consult with township attorneys to see the details in updating the existing contract.
Allen, the Priority Waste spokesperson, said he was sorry that a more timely announcement wasn’t communicated. He said the divesting company, in this case GFL, is normally the one to reach out to its customers to let them know of a pending change.
Allen said every municipality should receive a more formal notification as the June 30 finalization date draws near.
GFL officials could not be reached for comment Monday.
The lime green GFL trucks has become known for will eventually be painted yellow and rebranded, according to Allen. While residents might see GFL trucks for a while, they will be operated by Priority Waste beginning July 1.
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