October 19, 2007: Nearly 500 Teamsters at Waste Management in Southern California are on strike, after repeatedly rejecting contract offers that would cut their healthcare.
Southern California has the largest concentration of waste Teamsters in the country.
In its third "final offer" management upped its wage proposal by 50¢ over five years. But the contract contains the same medical plan concessions. Teamsters would be moved to an inferior medical plan and would be stuck paying for a growing percentage of their health benefits.
The Los Angeles waste drivers know that Waste Management's offer is inferior to what has been won in other West coast cities such as Seattle and Oakland.
The recent lockout in Oakland was a public relations disaster for Waste Management. Californians blamed the company for the garbage stacked up all over town this summer. Even Mayor Ron Dellums of Oakland called it a "dress rehearsal" for LA bargaining. The stage is set for a major victory in Los Angeles.
In both Oakland and Seattle, labor-community solidarity forced Waste Management to back down and agree to maintain quality health benefits paid for by the company-even if healthcare costs grow by 12 percent a year.
Waste Management is bringing in scabs to try to break the strike. Solidarity can and must prevail.
The International Union Waste Division needs to provide the backing these striking Teamsters need to win. Victory is within reach.