Contract negotiations between Waste Management and the Teamsters union representing about 150 recycle truck drivers broke down Thursday, increasing the possibility of a strike or lockout that could affect pickups starting next week.
The contract between the company and Teamsters Local 117 expired May 31. The company said it had agreed to extend a ratification deadline for its last offer until Sunday, June 17, an agreed to meet again on Thursday at the union’s request.
“In light of the union’s request to meet, we were especially surprised that the union came to the bargaining table without creative solutions designed to reach an agreement,” Waste Management said in a statement. “In fact, they refused to offer anything.
“Furthermore, the union informed the federal mediator they were not inclined to vote the agreement this weekend,” said Mary Evans, spokesperson for Waste Management. “Today’s lack of action is extremely disappointing. The union appears more interested in public media displays and the threat of customer service disruptions rather than allowing employees to vote our generous offer.”
The company said its last, six-year contract offer included wage and benefits increases averaging more than 4 percent a year, plus a $2,000 ratification bonus to each employee upon contract acceptance by June 17.
The Teamsters said, however, that the contract on the table is not on par with their garbage truck driver counterparts. The union said the company is preparing to lock out 150 of its recycle truck drivers and that could affect hundreds of thousands of customers.
In 2010, Waste Management workers went on strike for two days after failing to reach an agreement after the workers' contract expired. That strike affected more than 1 million customers.
Waste Management asks that you go to www.wmnorthwest.com for collection service updates.