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Republic Services resumes trash pickups in western Washington after strike

Republic Services resumed trash pickups this week after a Massachusetts strike impacted service for several western Washington cities last week.

Republic Services resumed trash pickups Monday after a Massachusetts worker strike impacted collections Thursday and Friday.

Impacted customers may put out double collections at no extra charge on their next collection day, according to Republic Services.

Striking workers from Teamsters Local 25 in Massachusetts have been on strike since August 29 over pay and benefits issues. Workers extended their picket line in Bellevue, Kent, and Lynnwood, according to a release from the union.

Approximately 250 Republic Services/Allied Waste workers in the Puget Sound area chose not to cross the picket line last week.

Several of the workers are now traveling to cities across America where other workers are honoring the Massachusetts picket line and not coming to work.

The workers showed up at Republic Services’ facility in the Seattle area Thursday at 3 a.m. and set up a picket line, according to Russell Joe, Republic Services municipal sales manager. 

A spokesperson for Republic Services said the workers picketed Bellevue and Lynnwood facilities again on Saturday.

The union said the work stoppage impacted at least 10 cities and 500,000 customers in the Puget Sound area. A representative for Republic Services said the only cities affected are Bellevue, Kent, and Lynnwood.

The Massachusetts crews have typically stayed in each city they've visited for just a few days. 

Bernie Egan-Mullen with Teamsters Local 25 carried a picket sign in Bellevue on Friday.

"The way Republic is handling other negotiations across the country, this could be them next," said Egan-Mullen. "I'll do what I have to do to get a fair contract for me and the 23 other guys I work with."

When asked how inconveniencing customers 2,500 miles away from Massachusetts helps his cause, Egan-Mullen answered, "It's making them aware of what we do and the circumstances we're under. Hopefully, they can call Republic and let them know."

Workers also said it was because of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who they say is Republic Services’ biggest shareholder. Egan-Mullen hoped his lonely picket would at least get his attention.

"If he can do anything, he should talk to them," said Egan-Mullen. "He's a 32% stockholder. I would assume he'd have some kind of say in it."

A Republic Services spokesperson said the temporary work stoppage had nothing to do with any Washington employees. 

"We respect our employees and their right to union representation, and we expect similar fairness in return,” a Republic Services spokesperson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, a small faction within the Teamsters organization is trying to use customer disruptions here as a tool to pressure a Republic subsidiary on the other side of the country. We will take the steps necessary to minimize inconvenience to our local customers caused by the Teamsters’ pressure tactics, and we will continue to offer our employees a highly competitive wage and benefit package with excellent wages and quality medical, dental, vision, AD&D and disability insurance, a company-matched 401(k) retirement plan and generous paid time off."

Republic Services provides trash collection for 169 cities in Washington.