BRAINTREE, Mass. — Braintree town council members are wondering if they want to continue business with a recycling contractor after a father says he was fired for not having a high school diploma.
The community has been rallying around Joao Alves after he was fired from his job at the Braintree Recycling Center. Many have been asking the company to reinstate the man, but more than a month later he's still unemployed.
The mayor of Braintree already tried to get this man his job back, calling Covanta, the New Jersey company that operates the plant, several times. When that didn’t work, city council took action.
Alves is a father of five, the oldest in college and the youngest a toddler. He'd had a steady income from his job at the Braintree Recycling Center for more than four years. Until Covanta decided to stop contracting out those jobs and bring them in house. Despite four years of experience, Covanta said Alves was unfit for the role because he never got a high school diploma. Alves volunteered to get his GED while he continued working, but he was fired anyway at the beginning of March and nearly lost his home.
"There were hundreds of people on Facebook that said he's great, he helps my mother when she pulls up. He touched a lot of people in Braintree and they stepped forward for him,” said Braintree Town Council President Sean Powers.
Powers and other councilors are asking once again for Covanta to rehire Alves. They have the support of about 800 residents who signed a petition. Many have said they are furious that this man, who would save cans for Boy Scout fundraisers and clothes for the Red Cross, is now facing hardship, despite taking pride in a “less than glamorous job.”
"From now until that contract is renewed everyone here, especially on the council and in Braintree, are going to make sure that Covanta continues to be a good corporate citizen. They can take a first step in doing that by reinstating Joao to his job,” said Powers.
Joao and his family hope it works.
"That’s what I’m praying for right now,” said Alves.
Alves said his unemployment has also been giving him problems and so far he’s been living almost entirely off of donations. City council hopes to get an answer from Covanta as soon as possible.