Local recycling, yard waste drivers go on strike

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 9:15 AM

About 150 of Waste Management's recycle and yard-waste drivers went on strike in King and Snohomish counties Wednesday. And it appears garbage truck drivers in those areas are honoring the picket lines, too, leaving thousands of customers without any pickup service. 

The strike is the result of contract negotiations over the last several months that have gone sour.

The recycle and yard-waste drivers are part of the Teamsters Local 117 union. The biggest issue of contention is pay. The union has been trying to match the pay of garbage drivers, who make as much as $9 an hour more than recycle drivers.

With overtime, recycle drivers now make about $58,000 a year. If their salary requests are met by Waste Management, they could make as much as $98,000 a year with overtime.

Johnny Lewis, who lives in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood, was surprised to see his garbage and yard waste were not picked up Wednesday.

"I hope it gets resolved soon and I hope both sides come to a reasonable conclusion so we can continue to have trash getting picked up because it's just an eyesore if you ask me," he said.

If your house is affected -- Waste Management advises you to put your recyclables/yard waste out as usual on your normal pickup day. If they are not picked up, Waste Management will collect double the amount on your next pickup day.

Get Waste Management updates on collection schedules here on their website or call the customer service center at 1 (800) 592-9995

Seattle Public Utilities also advised residents to put their recyclables out on the normal pick-up day. SPU noted that 60 percent of the city is potentially affected by the strike. Parts of the city serviced by CleanScapes are not affected.

There could also be areas without any garbage pickup until the issue is resolved. Some garbage drivers with Teamsters Local 174 have said they will honor the recycle drivers' picket lines.

"We are perplexed that the Union chose to go out on strike and negatively impact the public in this way," said Robin Freedman of Waste Management. "This was simply unnecessary, especially considering the fair and generous last, best and final package offered to Teamsters Local 117 over four weeks ago."

The recycle drivers started walking the picket lines at Waste Management facilities around 10:00 a.m. Drivers already on shift at that time drove back to their headquarters to participate in the strike.

The group also claims Waste Management violated federal labor law, described as "bad-faith bargaining, coercing and direct dealing with its employees, threatening to retaliate against workers, and unilaterally changing working conditions."

In June, Waste Management trained temporary drivers to help in the event of a work stoppage. It's not yet known whether they will take over the striking workers shifts.

A different union, Teamsters Local 174, represents the drivers of Waste Management's garbage trucks, who are honoring the strike, as is allowed by their contract, said union spokesman Michael Gonzales.

Affected Residential Customers:
Algona
Auburn
Bothell
Burien
Enumclaw
Federal Way
Kirkland
Maple Valley
Marysville
Mill Creek
Mountlake Terrace
Newcastle
Redmond
Renton
Seattle
WUTC Fairwood
WUTC Federal Way/Auburn
WUTC Index
WUTC Mountlake Terrace/Brier
WUTC Snohomish
WUTC Woodinville

Renton Customers
 
Please see the Renton webpage for service delay information: http://wmnorthwest.com/renton.
 
Affected commercial customers:
 
Algona
Arlington
Auburn
Bothell
Burien
Carnation
Duvall
Enumclaw
Federal Way
Granite Falls
Kent
Kirkland
Maple Valley
Marysville
Mill Creek
Monroe
Mountlake Terrace
Mukilteo
Newcastle
Pacific
Redmond
Renton
Sammamish
Seattle
Tukwila
WUTC East Redmond/Duvall/Carnation
WUTC East Redmond/Novelty Hill
WUTC Everett/Snohomish
WUTC Fairwood
WUTC Federal Way/Auburn
WTUC Lynnwood/Alderwood/North Bothell
WUTC Mountlake Terrace/Brier
WUTC Mukilteo/South Everett
WUTC Sammamish
WUTC Skyway
WUTC Snohomish
WUTC South Everett/North Bothell/Maltby/South Snohomish/Clearview
WUTC Woodinville
WUTC Woodinville/Duvall

The Teamsters Local 117 set up a website, www.seattletrashwatch.org.

KING 5's Glenn Farley, Lindsay Chamberlain, Joe Fryer and Susan Wyatt contributed to this report.

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