It was a full house at the Teamsters building. Parking was hard to come by, and the Union hall was packed. Puget Sound recycle and yard waste drivers were meeting to build solidarity and strength as they fight to achieve a fair contract in the recycle industry.
RECYCLE CONTRACTS EXPIRE IN MAY
Local 117 is currently in bargaining with Waste Management and Allied Waste over contracts for 250 members. All signs indicate that there will be tough negotiations ahead.
At the Waste Management meeting, members had plenty to say about what it will take to achieve a fair contract: “Unity is the most important thing – we have to stick together. That means turning out for contract meetings and backing each other up at work,” said Scott Parker, a driver at Waste Management’s Sno-King facility.
“It takes all of us - united we stand, divided we fall,” added Garry Hanson, a Shop Steward at Sno-King.
“We need to trust in our bargaining team that they are going to negotiate the best contract possible,” said Erik Lund, a commercial floater, who works out of Waste Management’s Seattle facility.
PICKET EXTENSION AT ALLIED WASTE BUILDS SOLIDARITY
The solidarity-building meetings had a tremendous effect. Just two weeks after the April 17 meetings, Local 117 Teamsters at Allied Waste displayed incredible courage when they honored extended picket lines at four area facilities set up by striking workers from Alabama.
The Alabama Teamsters, who had been without a contract for over a year, went on strike after the company backed out of a negotiated contract agreement. Solidarity pickets in support of the workers were immediately set up in Ohio and New York.
On March 29, a week after the strike began, extended pickets spread to the Seattle area. Local 117 members rallied behind their striking Brothers and Sisters in Alabama. 100 percent exercised their contractual right to honor the picket lines. The pressure of Local 117 members honoring the lines led to immediate results: Alabama Teamsters achieved a tentative agreement within 48 hours. Teamsters in Ohio and New York also achieved agreements with the company.
All three agreements have since been ratified by the members.
The united front of Teamsters at Allied Waste standing up for their rights shows the incredible power of Union solidarity! “Our actions let the company know that they can’t push us around,” said 7-year Teamster George Blakeley, who drives for Allied Waste, Bellevue.
RECYCLE & YARD WASTE WORKERS - THE FUTURE IS NOW!
Now the fight for a fair contract in the recycle industry turns to the Puget Sound region. Upcoming bargaining dates with Allied Waste and Waste Management have been scheduled for early May. You can support Teamsters in the solid waste industry by joining the Teamsters Recycle Power! group on Facebook, and by following developments on your Local Union’s website at www.teamsters117.org.
For Local 117 recycle and yard waste workers, the future is now!