September 2, 2008: Over 200 Teamster strikers in Milwaukee are solid in their commitment to protect their pensions and standard of living, as Waste Management tries to attack both.
Critical strike issues are wages and pensions. The strikers are paid on an incentive plan which leads to very different incomes, and with too much management discretion. Their average wage is far below what Waste Management Teamsters make in nearby Chicago.
A prime management demand is to pull out of the Teamster Central States Pension Fund. Waste Management has some 13 divisions in other states where Teamsters are in Central States, so the battle could have much wider implications.
Over the weekend, Local 200 Secretary-Treasurer Tom Millonzi issued a statement that he has offered the company a UPS-type withdrawal from Central States. This has led to some confusion, because on Saturday, Joint Council 39 President Fred Gegare told the strikers that there is “no way in hell” he would recommend any contract that includes a pull-out from Central States.
The move comes less than a year after UPS left the Central States Plan with the blessing and endorsement of the International Union.
The contract expired April 30. Teamsters have patiently worked without a contract all summer, giving management plenty of time to make a reasonable offer. Waste Management is the largest waste company in the USA and highly profitable.
Management has brought in scabs from across the country, and refers to the scab force as “the green team.” They are paying them vastly more than they pay Teamster labor.
Facing this giant corporation, the International Union may need to consider a Teamster escalation in the form of an extension of picket lines. The Milwaukee strikers are Teamsters on the front lines who deserve all our support.
Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.