LA Teamsters Trash Contract Givebacks

October 17, 2007: Waste Management Teamsters in Southern California have once again rejected a substandard contract offer that would cut their health benefits. In all three, Waste Management Teamsters voted No-for a combined vote of 247 No to 115 Yes.

This is the third time that Waste Management Teamsters have rejected these concessions while Local 396 officials have taken a neutral stand or supported the givebacks. It is time for our union to back these Teamsters with a plan to win.

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.

Incredibly, Local 396 Secretary Treasurer Ron Herrera told the workers that they would be own their own if they voted No. He has offered no leadership except to try to ram through a contract that management wants.

Los Angeles Teamsters are calling on Local 396 to use the tactics that worked in Seattle and Oakland: namely to reach out to community and political leaders and expose how Waste Management's reckless demands and bargaining tactics are putting workers and the public at risk.

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.

The International Union Waste Division should step in to help these workers win the victory that is within reach. Southern California is the largest concentration of waste Teamsters in the country.

This is an industry that our International Union has identified as a priority to organize. The outcome of contract bargaining in Los Angeles-victory or concessions-will either make our union's job easier or harder.

A victory at Waste Management will spread to the other waste employers in Southern California and beyond.

It's time for our International Union to work with Local 396 officers and members to execute a plan to win.

Click here to download the flyer that Local 396 Teamsters are distributing.

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