Teamster recycle drivers from Allied Waste/Republic and Waste Management unanimously voted to authorize a strike over the weekend.
Over 150 drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, met on Saturday, May 12, at the Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila for a contract update. After the meeting, the group voted to authorize the strike, sending a powerful message of union solidarity to the two corporate giants of the solid waste industry.
“Recycle and yard waste drivers put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our environment clean. This vote demonstrates that these workers are 100% committed to achieving a contract that reflects the important public health service they provide to our communities,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
In bargaining with the Union, both companies have failed to address the wide disparity in the industry that undervalues workers on the recycling side of the business.
“If Republic is as committed to recycling and a green future as it says, why are they paying me and other recycling drivers $9.00 an hour less than the garbage drivers? Next they’ll use this to drive down the wages of the garbage drivers,” said Shop Steward Roderick Holmes, a 14-year residential yard waste driver who works out of Allied Waste’s Bellevue yard.
“We drive the same trucks, operate the same equipment, and are often out on our routes for longer periods of time than the garbage haulers. We’re just asking for equal pay for equal work,” added Becky Colburn of Waste Management.
Local 117 is back at the bargaining table with Allied Waste/Republic on May 17 and 18 and with Waste Management on May 23 and 24.
To receive text message updates from your Local Union during recycle bargaining:
Members at Allied Waste: Text Teamsters AW to 313131
Members at Waste Management: Text Teamsters WMI to 313131.
Be sure to check out your Union’s website at www.teamsters117.org for more information and to join the Teamsters 117 Recycle Power Facebook group. If you have questions, talk to your Business Representative or Shop Steward.