Hundreds Rally At Teamsters Hall In Tukwila In Support Of Garbage Haulers
[DISCLOSURE: Scott Schaefer, the Publisher/Editor of The B-Town Blog, is an active member of the Directors Guild of America, a film/video workers union based in Los Angeles, CA.]
On Sunday, April 11th, hundreds of supporters and garbage haulers rallied at the Teamsters Local #174 Union Hall in Tukwila to remind folks that their contract negotiations with Waste Management (WMI) have stalled, and that they should be prepared for service disruptions if the workers decide to strike.
On the other hand, Waste Management announced that they have the right to lockout workers, as they’re apparently preparing to hire replacements.
Far as we know, garbage service will not be disrupted this week in the Burien area, so leave your cans out as usual; to check WMI’s status of the strike, click here.
“Waste Management is spending millions of dollars to demonize its own employees,” said Longinue Shipp, a five-year WMI sanitation worker. “I bust my hump every day and if I get sick or get injured on the job, I would expect to have health care. We’re not asking for anything outrageous, we’re asking to be treated fairly.”
According to the Teamsters, after weeks of bargaining, WMI is seeking to eliminate retiree health care and refusing to provide the same employee health care protections provided by every major waste companies in the area.
Waste Management claims that’s because they’ve already made their “best and final offer” which they claim addresses the issues of wages, retirement and health care.
“Sanitation workers often can’t work past the age of 50,” said Tracey Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “They break down from being exposed to hazardous materials like feces and medical waste and fatigue associated with performing backbreaking physical labor 11 hours a day. Why can’t the most profitable waste company in the world offer the same health care protections that their major competitors, Allied Waste and CleanScapes, do?”
Armed with yard signs that read “Waste Management Stop Trashing Our Neighborhood,” community members from across King County spent the afternoon setting up Neighborhood Trash Watches to support local sanitation workers and stop trash from pilling up in front of their houses.
“We won’t let Waste Management hold our community hostage,” said Paul Benz, a Lutheran minister. “These workers aren’t asking for anything outrageous. Its clear to us that Waste Management has an ulterior motive.”
WMI may be trying to provoke a strike or lockout in a move to break an agreement between areas cities and King County. The move would allow WMI to gain a foothold in the lucrative waste disposal/landfill market that is currently run almost exclusively by the county.
“Over the next two days we will release a website and an 800 number for King County residents and businesses who want to report trash pick-up problems and avoid service disruptions,” said Rick Hicks, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 174. “We are going to do everything we can to make sure Waste Management doesn’t trash its workers or our neighborhoods.”
If you’re inclined to show your support of your garbage haulers, you can sign up to assist here.
Here’s a video story on the latest courtesy KING-TV: