SEATTLE – With threats of strikes and lockouts, Puget Sound garbage customers were wondering Monday if their trash was going to be picked up. But there were indications Monday that work was going to happen as normal.
Over the weekend, Waste Management union drivers refused to look at the company’s latest contract offer, but said they would still come to work Monday.
Contract negotiations have been going on for the past five months between Waste Management and Teamsters Local 117, the union representing drivers who haul away recyclables.
Teamsters 117 says its workers do the same job as garbage collectors, but get paid much less.
Waste Management says it has offered compensation, including a four percent yearly wage increase and a $2,000 bonus. The company calls it the best and last offer.
If there is a strike or lockout, it could affect nearly 300,000 residential and commercial customers. It won’t just be recycling because Teamsters 174, representing garbage collectors, says it will honor picket lines and not cross them.
It appeared, however, that garbage workers were on the job Monday.
“I’m feeling we’re going to work,” said one driver reporting to work Monday. “I don’t want to strike. I really don’t.”
At a Seattle yard where garbage trucks are parked, there were new security measures in place Monday – barbed wire and extra security guards – as there has been rumors the company could lock out drivers.
Waste Management has brought in non-union drivers in the past few days for training in case there is a work stoppage. Waste Management says you should still put out your garbage and recyclables. Under contract, the company still has to pick it up and could be fined if it doesn’t.
A strike or lockout would not affect your bill.
Another option is to haul your own garbage to a landfill, but you will have to pay for that.
Information from KING 5's Roberta Romero compiled by Travis Pittman