AP: Oakland leaders go to court to try to get trash picked up

July 11, 2007: Oakland, Calif (AP) - Mayor Ron Dellums and other city officials went to court Thursday in an effort to settle a trash company labor dispute and get piles of stinky garbage picked up.

But officials with the company, Waste Management Inc., said the city's quest for an injunction is unnecessary because the company has already hired more temporary workers to replace locked out garbage truck drivers.

The problem started in early July when Waste Management locked out nearly 500 drivers in a dispute with the Teamsters union.

Since then, the city has received hundreds of complaints from residents about uncollected garbage.

After behind-the-scenes negotiations failed, Dellums and City Attorney John Russo asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge to order Waste Management to pick up the rapidly ripening trash immediately.

"If between now and the time we can get a court hearing, they can show evidence that the trash is being picked up, then it will make the injunction moot," Russo said Wednesday. "But 10 days is long enough. This is a matter of health and safety for our residents. Doing the best they can doesn't get it done."

Waste Management spokeswoman Jennifer Andrews called the action needless.

"Over the past few days we've been increasing the number of our temporary workers and the number of routes and that is to bring service back to 100 percent," she said. Andrews said weekly residential garbage pickup has been restored and curbside recycling pickup will be back on schedule by Monday.

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