Action Needed to Protect Benefits in Solid Waste: Don’t Trash Our Healthcare!

May 9, 2007: Waste Management and other industry giants have been attacking Teamster benefits across the country as part of a national plan to shift healthcare costs onto employees.

In April, the company opened up a new front in the healthcare war in Corona, Calif. by cutting the medical benefits of 150 members of Local 396.

Teamsters in the Corona and Chino yards were moved into an inferior healthcare plan as part of their new contract. By the fifth year of the agreement, members could be paying $200 a month or more for their healthcare.

The next critical battle may be right up the road. This fall, Local 396 will negotiate contracts covering nearly 2,000 wastehaul Teamsters in Los Angeles County.

The time is now for our union to draw the line against healthcare cuts.

LA County is one of the highest concentrations of wastehaul Teamsters in the country. The majority of these Teamsters work for the Big Three employers: Waste Management, Allied Waste, and Republic Services.

Our numbers there give us the power to protect members’ benefits—and to send employers and unorganized workers in the industry the message that our union can win strong contracts and a better future for wastehaulers.

Teamsters in Southern California know it won’t be easy.

“What happened in Corona is a wake-up call for us,” said Jose Morales, a driver for Waste Management Sun Valley Division. “We’ve got to get organized and be prepared to stand up for ourselves.”

Other Teamsters have shown it can be done. In Seattle, Local 174 launched a contract campaign a year in advance and won major gains. Members at Waste Management and Allied went from paying close to $300 a month for their health insurance to just $30 a month.

“If we want to succeed this fall, then the rank-and-file membership has to be organized,” Morales said. “We need to build a network of wastehaul Teamsters across LA County so we can take coordinated action and show the employers—and our union representatives—that we’re serious about winning the contracts we deserve.”

For more information about rank-and-file efforts to build a network of wastehaul Teamsters in Southern California—and across the country—contact, Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

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