Waste Management May Lock Out Seattle Teamsters

Teamsters Local 117
June 15, 2012

With the labor agreement between Waste Management and Teamsters Local 117 expired as of May 31, Waste Management appears to be preparing to lockout its 150 recycle and yard waste drivers, a move that would severely disrupt service to hundreds of thousands of residential customers and businesses throughout our region.

“Instead of bargaining fairly as its competitor has, Waste Management is aggressively preparing to lockout recycle and yard waste drivers, which will disrupt service and put our communities at risk,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. 

Over the past several weeks, Waste Management has been bringing in its Green Team, a cadre of replacement workers from around the country.  Just today, Waste Management required all drivers to hand over their trucks to management and prevented drivers from bringing their trucks onto Company property.  Some drivers were prohibited from performing a proper post-trip inspection as required by federal law.  The company is conducting a job fair this weekend and has installed barricades, temporary flood lights and barbed wire fencing around its facilities.  An outside security firm is also on site.  Waste Management engaged in similar tactics prior to locking out 500 workers for nearly a month in Oakland in 2007.  

Teamsters, Local 117 has filed numerous unfair labor practice charges over the Company’s unilateral changes in working conditions without negotiating with the Union, direct dealing, and violating employees’ rights to engage in protected, concerted activity.

“Waste Management has demonstrated, once again, that it would rather trample its employees’ legal rights and spend tens of thousands of dollars in lockout preparations than negotiate an equitable contract for recycle drivers in our region.  I’ve repeatedly told the Company that we do not want a labor dispute.  All we want is for our recycle members to be compensated fairly,” Thompson said.

On June 2, recycle drivers responded to the company’s unlawful scare tactics with a unanimous vote to strike.  Garbage drivers at the company, represented by Teamsters Local 174, have indicated that they will support their Local 117 Brothers and Sisters in the event of a labor dispute. 

In 2010, Waste Management engaged in similar tactics when the Company failed to bargain in good faith with Teamsters Local 174, which led to an unfair labor practice strike lasting thirty-six (36) hours.

Teamsters Local 117 settled its recycle contracts with Allied Waste/Republic earlier this month.  After months of challenging negotiations to address a large compensation disparity between recycle and garbage drivers, Allied Waste/Republic recycle drivers overwhelmingly ratified a 5-year contract on June 2.

“Allied Waste recognized the inequities between recycle and garbage drivers, and that Company bargained a contract in good faith that both protects our communities from unrest and fairly compensates recycle drivers for their labor,” Thompson said.  

“We drive the same trucks, operate the same equipment, are held to the same standards, and are often out on our routes for longer periods of time than the garbage haulers. We’re just asking for equal pay for equal work,” said Becky Colburn a yard waste recycle driver for Waste Management.

In 2010 and 2011 Waste Management reported significant profits on their recycling operations.  Waste Management posted $13.4 billion in revenues in 2011. Its 2011 net income was $961 million.

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