New Law Helps Minneapolis Wastehaulers Unionize

January 10, 2009: Minnesota waste workers are using a new city law to help join our union.

Workers at Minnesota Refuse Inc. have been nonunion for years. Now they’ll get a chance to join the Teamsters without the threats and intimidation most workers face from their boss when they try to organize.

MRI is a consortium of private waste companies that haul the trash for 52,000 Minneapolis households.

In 2007, Minneapolis passed a “labor peace” ordinance that requires some city contractors to remain neutral when their workers try to unionize.

The law also requires the company to recognize a union after a majority of their workers sign cards saying they want union representation—that’s similar to how the proposed Employee Free Choice Act work.

When MRI’s contract with the city was up in December, the city insisted that the company agree to labor peace.

There is a compromise, though. The Teamsters had to agree to no strikes or picketing for the life of MRI’s five-year contract with the city.

Waste Management and Allied Waste—two major Teamster employers—refused to agree to the labor peace rule and quit MRI.

Now the other companies will take over their routes—and wastehaul workers will get the opportunity to join our union in peace.

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