NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Waste Management reaches agreement with Teamsters; truck drivers returning to work

A days-long, region­wide strike against Waste Man­age­ment by its recy­cling and garbage truck dri­vers will like­ly be over as of tomor­row, thanks to suc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tions that result­ed in a new mul­ti-year con­tract, the com­pa­ny and Team­sters Local 117 announced this evening.

The strike began last week when recy­cling truck dri­vers began pick­et­ing Waste Man­age­ment after the com­pa­ny broke off nego­ti­a­tions on a new con­tract. After the strike began, Waste Man­age­men­t’s garbage truck dri­vers (who have a sep­a­rate con­tract) walked off the job in sol­i­dar­i­ty with their broth­ers and sis­ters, result­ing in missed curb­side pick­ups across the region, from Seat­tle to Red­mond to Auburn.

As recent­ly as a few hours ago, it appeared the two sides were at log­ger­heads, and the strike would be con­tin­u­ing for some time. Waste Man­age­ment revealed yes­ter­day that it was prepar­ing to bring in replace­ment dri­vers, which jus­ti­fi­ably drew con­dem­na­tion from the Team­sters. But now it appears this labor dis­pute is over. Here’s Waste Man­age­men­t’s state­ment on the res­o­lu­tion of the strike:

Waste Man­age­ment and Team­sters Local 117 have reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment on a new 6‑year con­tract. Team­ster lead­er­ship and the bar­gain­ing com­mit­tee will ful­ly rec­om­mend that mem­bers approve the new con­tract at the rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote sched­uled for 9:00am on Thurs­day, August 2, 2012 at the Union Hall in Tukwila.

Garbage dri­vers will return to work in the morn­ing and begin ser­vic­ing their reg­u­lar Thurs­day col­lec­tion routes. How­ev­er, due to the tim­ing of the rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote, recy­cling and yard waste col­lec­tion will be limited.

All Thurs­day RESIDENTIAL cus­tomers in King, Sno­homish, and Skag­it coun­ties: Please place all of your reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled carts out for col­lec­tion. We appre­ci­ate your under­stand­ing as we work to restore ser­vice to our communities.

All Thurs­day COMMERCIAL cus­tomers in King, Sno­homish, and Skag­it coun­ties: Please set out and/or unlock your con­tain­ers as you nor­mal­ly would on a ser­vice day. We appre­ci­ate your under­stand­ing as we work to restore ser­vice to our communities.

To all of our cus­tomers, we sin­cere­ly apol­o­gize for any incon­ve­nience this labor dis­rup­tion has caused. Thank you for your con­tin­ue patience.

We com­mend Waste Man­age­men­t’s exec­u­tives for com­ing to their sens­es and return­ing to the bar­gain­ing table to nego­ti­ate in good faith with the Team­sters. If they had only done so soon­er, this strike could have been avoid­ed. The com­pa­ny’s dri­vers are pro­fes­sion­als who pro­vide a cru­cial ser­vice and they deserve to fair­ly com­pen­sat­ed for their work. That’s all they have been ask­ing for.

Sev­er­al of us at NPI are among the thou­sands who have been affect­ed by the strike. While we don’t mind hav­ing to wait anoth­er week for our recy­cling, trash, and food scraps to be picked up, we do not appre­ci­ate the way in which Waste Man­age­ment respond­ed to the strike pri­or to the com­pa­ny’s deci­sion to return to the bar­gain­ing table. Threat­en­ing (and prepar­ing) to bring in replace­ment work­ers to break the strike was a bad move.

We’re very glad to hear that the eighty plus mem­bers of Team­sters Local 117 — who duti­ful­ly pick up our recy­cling every week — have reached agree­ment on a new six year con­tract that hope­ful­ly pays them a liv­ing wage.

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