Talks between Waste Management and recycle drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, stalled on Thursday because the company refused to bargain in good faith. The mediator called off negotiations after the company refused to respond to the Union’s proposal.
“Waste Management did not come prepared to bargain today,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We came back to the table to avoid a public health crisis but it’s clear that Waste Management wants to provoke a labor dispute.”
Waste Management has flown in out-of-state strike breakers to prepare for a lockout and has employed staffers from Huffmaster, a company that specializes in lockouts and strikes. “Waste Management is spending thousands of dollars on wages, plane tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms for out-of-state strike breakers and security guards. That’s money that could be used to match proposals made by its major competitors,” Thompson said.
If the company locks out its workers, King County’s landfill system is likely to experience severe disruptions when trucks begin stacking up at County transfer stations. A lockout would also put replacement drivers on the road who are unfamiliar with the area.
In 2007, when Waste Management locked out 500 sanitation workers in Oakland, CA, garbage piled up in east bay communities for nearly a month. “We want to keep bargaining to avoid a labor dispute. This community should not have to suffer because a $13 billion dollar company like Waste Management wants to turn a higher profit," Thompson said.