A sanitation worker for the town of Babylon picks up...

A sanitation worker for the town of Babylon picks up garbage on Cherubina Lane in North Babylon on the first day of residential garbage pickup under a new contractor. (Oct. 1, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Babylon Town's new residential garbage carter is claiming a successful albeit rocky first week, during which it fielded false calls about missed pickups and had nearly a quarter of its workforce walk off the job.

Town officials said they are investigating whether those actions were part of a coordinated campaign to disrupt EnCon Industries Corp.'s service.

"It's obvious from the past week that there were people out there looking to undermine this contract and this contractor," said Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer. He declined to offer further details.

The town signed a 10-year, $84 million contract with EnCon weeks ago, after withdrawing from an agreement with the original contractor, Jody Enterprises, which was accused of stealing recyclables in Smithtown. Schaffer said that given the short amount of time they had to prepare, EnCon performed "very well."

The town received an average of 100 calls a day about garbage pickups, spokesman Tim Ruggeri said. On Monday, after a week, the number dropped by half, he said.

Anthony Core, president of EnCon, said "a lot" of these calls could not be substantiated, which resulted in a "wild goose chase." He applauded his company's performance.

But some workers told a different story. Billy Crooker, 24, and his brother Tom, 29, quit within a few days. The brothers -- who along with another brother and their father had worked for the town's former residential garbage hauler, Babylon Source Separation Inc., or BSSI -- denied their actions were part of a larger, coordinated effort to hurt EnCon.

"This is about not treating employees right," said Billy Crooker, who quit after one day. He said the company gave workers too many households, but Core denied workers were "overloaded."

Core said about 15 of his more than 60 workers quit or were fired for insubordination. He said one worker abandoned the vehicle in Amityville, and he accused some workers of trying to deceive GPS locators in the trucks by driving down streets but only picking up half the trash. Of those who quit, a majority had worked for BSSI, he said.

Billy's brother Tom quit after three days. He said drivers were unfamiliar with the routes and workers fell behind in their pickups. He said Core told him that because of this, he should pick up garbage and yard waste together, counter to EnCon's contract.

Core said he couldn't confirm the order but said the items could be separated at the recycling plant. Schaffer said he is fine with the commingling as an emergency measure.

Schaffer acknowledged that five town trucks were used to help make pickups. "They will not have to reimburse us for anything because we're not going to charge them for something that was out of their control," he said, referring to the suspected sabotage.

The brothers also alleged that the company is using unsafe and old trucks, several of which had been taken out of service by the state Department of Transportation.

State DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said that after receiving a complaint, the agency took one EnCon truck out of service for a broken signal and a fuel tank leak. She said the DOT is "inspecting their trucks in accordance with our normal procedures."