Sammamish residents impacted by garbage strike
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Issaquah Reporter Contributer
July 27, 2012 · Updated 12:57 PM
Many Sammamish residents scheduled to have their garbage picked up in the coming days will not receive service.
Waste Management recycling and yard waste truck drivers in King and Snohomish counties went on strike Wednesday morning following failed contract negotiations, disrupting service to thousands of Sammamish residents.
Waste Management provides services north of Northeast 8th Street and Inglewood Hill Road, while Allied Waste/Republic Services provides services south of Northeast 8th Street and Inglewood Hill Road. Those drivers are not on strike and garbage and recycling days will remain on a normal schedule.
Teamsters’ Local Union 117, whose membership includes recycling and yard waste drivers, accused the company of several federal labor law violations, including bad-faith bargaining, coercing and direct dealing with its employees and threatening to retaliate against workers.
The National Labor Relations Board is currently investigating those violations, according to the union.
"Waste Management has forced this labor dispute through its blatant disregard of U.S. law," said Local 117 secretary-treasurer Tracey A. Thompson, in a statement “Now they are on the verge of provoking a public health crisis. Waste Management needs to realize that this community will not sit idly by while they put our families at risk. We call on Waste Management to return to the bargaining table immediately and bargain a fair contract in good faith that recognizes the health and safety hazards its drivers face on the job."
The expected duration of the strike is unknown.
At issue is 153 recycle and yard waste drivers employed by Waste Management, who have been working without a contract since May 31, according to Local 117. The drivers unanimously voted on June 2 to authorize a strike after they said the company committed a series of labor law violations.
Waste Management delivered its final contract offer to the union on June 6, which proposed wage and benefit increases averaging more than 4 percent per year. The contract also offered the average recycle driver a total compensation package of $98,023 in the final year of the new six-year contract.
Mediation between the union and company ended on June 14, after the parties failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the contract that expired on May 31.
Waste Management spokeswoman Robin Freedman said the company is "extremely disappointed today that union leaders decided to take this unnecessary step."
She added after more than six months of contract negotiations, the company put forth 16 comprehensive proposals that were "very generous."
She denied that Waste Management had violated any federal labor laws.
"That’s a typical union tactic during labor negotiations to claim there were unfair labor practices," said Freedman. "We are extremely confident the National Labor Relations Board will find (their accusations) without merit."
She also said it was difficult for the company to get a good count on how many customers region-wide were affected during the strike as some drivers stayed out all day on Wednesday.
In total, recycling and yard waste drivers service 220,000 customers in the Puget Sound region.
Waste Management will now implement its strike contingency plan. Initially, service will focus upon critical customers associated with public health such as hospitals, nursing homes, and day care centers.
Customers who did not receive service are encouraged to remove their garbage, recycling, and yard waste carts from the street. A double load of garbage and recyclables will be collected at no additional cost on the next regularly scheduled service day.
City solid waste customers are encouraged to stay informed on the progress of the strike and service interruptions by visiting the WMI website.
Questions or concerns should be directed to WMI at 1-800-592-9995 or email@example.com.