City of Burien Sends Threatening Letter to Management of Waste Management

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Burien City Manager Mike Martin.

The City of Burien sent a threatening letter to the management of Waste Management on Tuesday (July 31), urging them:

“…to return to the negotiating table immediately and resolve these issues before the service disruption that has already commenced escalates from inconvenience into a threat to public health and safety.”

The letter, signed by City Manager Mike Martin, states that the significant compensation disparity between garbage and recycle drivers “does not reflect the City of Burien’s stated commitment to the environment, sustainability and support of family-wage jobs.”

The letter concludes with the following remark:

“…we do not wish to exercise the liquidated damages clause in our contract… but we will not hesitate to do so if it is necessary.”

The City of Seattle has also threatened WM with fines of up to $1.25 million per day.

Martin told The B-Town Blog Tuesday that “liquidated damages” resulting from the interruption of solid waste collection services in Burien “certainly would be in excess of $150,000 a day.”

Liquid damages, as specified in the city’s contract with Waste Management, “is based on the number of blocks not serviced,” he noted.

“Calculating the exact number of blocks at this time is an inexact science, but I think that’s a fair assumption.”

Here’s the text of the letter in its entirety (download a PDF of it here):

Dear Mr. Kattler and Ms. Evans:

The City of Burien has followed with increasing concern the lack of progress your company and its bargaining units have made in resolving the current labor impasse. Burien has no direct voice in your negotiations, but our residents have a great deal at stake. We urge Waste Management to return to the negotiating table immediately and resolve these issues before the service disruption that has already commenced escalates from inconvenience into a threat to public health and safety.

I need to be clear that the City of Burien expects Waste Management to perform its contract or be subject to the liquidated damage clause set forth in Section 4 of the contract. As you know, the liquidated damages are significant. Let me also be clear in stating that we are not interested in exercising that clause; our interest is in having Waste Management resolve its labor dispute quicky and fairly, and in a fashion that will serve the expectations of our residents, your rate payers.

Obviously we do not have knowledge regarding the nature of the dispute among that parties. But Burien is a blue-collar city that believes all workers have a right to a fair wage and safe working conditions. At its July2 3 meeting, the Burien City Council adopted the following statement of concernt regarding the currently labor dispute:

The City of Burien places a high value on protecting the environment and actively encourages its citizens to reduce materials entering the waste stream by participating in recycling programs.

Presently Sanitation workers are paid a significantly higher wage than recycling workers. This does not reflect the City of Burien’s stated commitment to the environment, sustainability and support of family wage jobs.

Therefore the City of Burien believers that those individuals who are engaged in waste recycling should be compensated at comp[arable levels as those who are employed as sanitation workers and encourages its vendor to act accordingly.

Burien has had excellent working relations with Waste Management since our contract with your company began in June, 2004, We trust you will use your best efforts to resolve the current labor dispute, and avoid having what is currently an inconvenience turn into something much worse. As I said, we do not wish to exercise the liquidated damages clause in our contract to hasten an end to the current impasse, but we will not hesitate to do so if necessary.

Mike Martin
City Manager

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23 Responses to “City of Burien Sends Threatening Letter to Management of Waste Management”
  1. Kingston says:

    If I read this correctly, it appears that the City sides with the union, regardless if their demands are fair or not. Think of the signal that sends to the other unions the City contracts with when their contracts come up for re-negotiating. Get ready Burien taxpayers to get hit in the wallet again.

    As someone else pointed out (Very Tired, I believe), these people should be thankful to God that they have a great paying job – WM should fire them all, then put out help wanted ads for replacements….I’d bet they’d have to turn away applicants because they’d have so many.

    Can’t believe the City takes the position that a company has no right to say “no” to unions….get rid of unions and their communist beliefs of entitlement!

    • VERY TIRED says:

      Kingston! Thank God we have another person in this city that believes in common sense!

      It is truly sad that those employees had to be the sacrifice for greedy collectivists like the Teamsters.

    • devilsadvocate says:

      Communistic belief to entitlement????.. sheesh, I can see trying to argue with someone as ignorant and close minded as you are would be like trying to beat a dead horse.
      Regardless of how one feels about the unions, there is no denying the fact unions built this country and the middle class,

  2. Mike says:

    WM just announced they were hiring permanent replacement drivers kingstoned. Now you and very tired(of his crap) can go scab on the terrible union workers. Never mind the execs that will take full advantage of your willingness to screw over your neighbors. They will look at you as the scabby bottom feeder that will kiss their a$$ and work for anything they offer (as little as that will be). Now get out there and get to work. Hopefully you can qualify to do this mindless job that any high school dropout can do.

    • VERY TIRED says:

      Waste Management pulled a Reagan. Outstanding.

      Mike…unions who get too greedy COST JOBS. Collective bargaining is meant as a means to work out an equitable agreement between the employee and the business, not to extort money. The Teamsters just made a terrible mistake, and the people that were forced to pay money to that protection racket every month just lost big.

      • Mike says:

        You and your buddy kingstoned are still sitting on your butts typing instead of scabbing and screwing over your neighbors? Since your so skilled go apply. FYI when WM is caught for unfair labor practices you and the scab replacements will be fired and replaced with those greedy teamsters. Then you and kingstoner and all your new scabby replacement buddys can have a scab bar b q and drink some scab beer.

        It will be fun seeing WM paying all those fines starting tomorrow. City after city is piling on. Nice job to the waste exec that screwed all this up. Sh&t canning that exec should free up some cash to get the drivers up to the garbage haulers rate of pay. Not to mention waste is refusing to credit anyone’s bills for not picking up. They can’t seem to get any of their scab operation right. McGinn said he will repay all their customers with the fine money since Waste won’t. Classy employer. And you two are real classy as well.

    • Kingston says:

      Mike (if that’s your real name) – I believe WM is bringing in drivers from out-of-state, so I couldn’t hire on as scab labor (though I’d do it in a heartbeat if they were hiring locally).

      It’s too bad that we’re locked into a monopoly for utility services (like Comcast for cable) and competing companies aren’t allowed in our service area.

      The real losers (with Mike leading the way with his hammer and sickle) are the ratepayers, who have no control over utility providers and the contracts with municipalities…..gee, and I thought we had a representative form of government here in America, especially in Burien, not a politburo!

      And to TcB – you need a break from all this anger, buddy… should come over to my house and help me pick up the trash that the crows are spreading all over the street….we’ll make little Mikey proud!

      • TcB says:

        But you’re part of the anger. That’s like saying you need a break from work, so how about doing a double shift?

      • Mike says:


        They are and have been hiring local “qualified” drivers to scab on their neighbors. Heres you rchance to back up your big talk. Check Craigslist or go online to WM website. It’s all over the radio as well.

        Mike is my real name and I’m fine paying the garbage/recycle rates as long as they pick up. I will be going to the city of Seattle for a rebate since waste can’t see their way to reimburse their loyal customers that pay on time.

  3. VERY TIRED says:

    What kind of drivel is that?

    You’re going to blame the company because of the union’s ill-timed and moronic attempts at trying to extort more money?

    “The City of Burien places a high value on protecting the environment and actively encourages its citizens to reduce materials entering the waste stream by participating in recycling programs.”

    What the hell? You want to make sure the trash is picked up, Martin? Send that letter to the Teamsters! The employees made a choice to work there. The employees have a responsibility to go to work. The employees need to go back to work. We don’t need this kind of nonsense going on during a recession. It’s greed. It’s malfeasance. The City of Burien is siding with a corrupt union over a private business. This is sickening.

  4. TcB says:

    One thing is for sure, there are a lot of angry people (really just the one’s who comment here) on this blog. About everything. All. The. Time.

  5. SD says:

    I’m not sure I should even be commenting on this because I know very little about the contract dispute but having worked in a union environment years ago, it was common to have employees within the same work group (performing the same job) on a different pay scale. The “A” scalers made a handsome wage, “B” scalers made a decent wage, and “C” scalers made a modest wage. One of the groups I’m referring to is the baggage handlers at an airline. The baggage handlers worked their tails off lifting luggage in and out of the belly of the airplane, hooked up a caravan of carts to a tug, and maneuvered between multi-million dollar airplanes in a swift manner to ensure an on-time departure — not to mention emptying the toilets. I would not call their job easy or without a lot of responsibility. So, I guess what concerns me about the City Manager and Council’s position is that just because there is a difference among a work groups wage, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a fair wage in today’s economic environment.

  6. John says:

    I see on the news that many cities are threatening to start charging these large fee’s for not getting a contract in place or back to work picking up the garbage and recycling. Instead of threatening to do this why don’t these cities just do it. It seems the cities are just like the company and the unions. Threatening to do this or that and no one takes action. Yes, the union struck that is the only thing that has taken place. I don’t see solutions with just that alone.

    • Mike says:

      The reason they won’t fine Waste Management is due to the high cost of litigation. Waste Management is a multi billion corporation with some of the best attorneys money can buy. They would run this through the courts for years and the loser would be Burien. Do you really think they are intimidated by a letter from Mike Martin? Put the contract out to bid when it comes up and then you have some leverage. Another side show from a city manager who should have been fired long ago.

  7. Carrie says:

    Hmm, I see that the City of Des Moines contracts with CleanScapes, wondering what their services/fees are like? How long is the City of Burien’s contract with Waste Management and when was the last time it was reviewed?

  8. devilsadvocate says:

    Very tired, you really are a jealous s.o.b aren`t you?
    I feel sad for you and your kids that your insecurities may rub off on.

  9. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Stupid phone posted before I finished my post. Here is what i meant to say.
    I see that the Mayor of Seattle has opened the transfer stations to Seattle residents for free. What are you going to do for us Mr. Martin and Mayor Bennett?

    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      They just did it! They sent a letter!! Good job Mr. Martin..Way to go! I’m proud of you.BTW, You wouldn’t mind if I dropped my garbage at city hall,would you? I promise to put it in your dumpster that is getting dumped.

      • Ghost of Maplewild says:

        I think the parking lot of the OLD City Hall would be a great drop off location. Thoughts?

        • Eaton B. Verz says:

          That is as good of place as any! Well done!

          • Ghost of Maewild says:

            It would be a great photo op as well as a community building operation. Just imagine, Mike Martin and the council helping Burien citizens unload their garbage. Standing up for our health and well being during these trying times.

  10. Ron says:

    I think its funny the when the Left are faced with common sense they result to name calling, the city government is supposed to represent the taxpayers, Not the corrupt unions, How can the company bargain while being threatend? I drivers where offered 98k a year, how is that not good enough?

  11. James Sharkey says:

    There are usually two sides in a dispute. The unions should also have to pay a fine. The union leaders will not let the members vote on anything they have not approved of. Why not allow the members decide if the contract is a good one. The union leaders have become the great “Deciders”. Right now there is a difference in the pay scales. Maybe one of the unions should get an increase in the hourly rate and the other a decrease. That would bring parity.

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