Teamster recycle and yard waste drivers who work at Republic Services voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike on Sunday. The drivers took the strike vote after a contract update meeting at the Teamsters building in Tukwila.
“Our job is the sixth most dangerous in the country,” said George Blakey, a driver who works out of Republic’s depot in Bellevue. “We’ve had people almost get run over, we’ve had people get hit. Then you have the actual equipment – if it malfunctions, it can hurt you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a garbage driver or if you’re hauling away recycle or yard waste. Republic should do everything they can to treat us equitably and keep us safe.”
The Teamsters have been in negotiations with Republic for the last several months. The drivers have been working without the protections of a contract since the agreement expired last Wednesday. Bargaining between the union and the company is scheduled for June 6 and 7. No other dates have been scheduled.
“We’re working hard to avert a strike,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer and the lead negotiator for Teamsters Local 117. “We’re hopeful that Republic comes to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate a contract in good faith that values safety and equity for drivers and their families. If that is not the case, the drivers have indicated with this vote that they are ready to take action to protect their livelihoods.”
In bargaining, the union is seeking, among other improvements, safer trucks, a limit to the number of hours drivers would be required to spend on the road, and equity with the garbage haulers. So far, Republic has rejected those proposals.
“Even the company is telling us we do the same job; they tell us that at our safety meetings,” said Fabio Desimone, a 23-year Teamster, who works out of Republic’s yard in Kent. “The route managers will come up and say we deserve to have parity.”
Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 120 yard waste and recycle drivers who are dispatched out of four Republic locations: Bellevue, Kent, Seattle, and Lynnwood. The drivers who work out of the Bellevue yard serve some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in our region, including Bellevue, Mercer Island, Medina, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Sammamish, and Issaquah. The drivers serve dozens of other North and South Sound communities.
Teamsters at Local 812 on Long Island have been on strike at Clare Rose, a major Anheuser Busch distributor, for 41 days. The company is intent on slashing worker pay and benefits.
Support striking Teamsters! Contact Anheuser Busch at 1-800-DIAL BUD 342-5283. Tell them Clare Rose needs to stop harming its workers!
Dwayne Bockman and Cara Mattson share a hug as the contract is close to being finalized.
Sitting behind the wheel of the bus shuttling SeaTac passengers between airport terminals, Brad Mehtala’s smile is beaming.
“This new contract is amazing! I never thought it would happen. It’s like a new job!”
George Blakey is a Shop Steward who works as a driver at Republic Services. He is on our Union's bargaining committee.
My name is George Blakey. I am a Shop Steward and proud member of Teamsters Local 117 who works as a driver for Republic Services in the solid waste industry.
My co-workers and I are in the middle of a tough contract fight with our employer. On behalf of my fellow Teamsters and our families, I ask that you please sign a petition supporting us.
I haul away recycle and yard waste from businesses and customers who live in residential neighborhoods in and around Bellevue, WA.
I encounter a lot of hazards on my route. I deal with rats, dirty diapers, and syringes in and around the cans, not to mention the dangerous equipment we operate. Maybe that’s why our job is consistently listed as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America.
I work hard to support my family and want to be treated with respect.
Right now that’s not happening. In contract negotiations, Republic is pitting Teamster against Teamster, recycle drivers against garbage drivers.
Peter Miller sitting against the glass of the penguin exhibit. He has worked at the Woodland Park Zoo for over a decade.
On a sunny day in May, along with toddlers and mothers in bright shirts and summer dresses, I headed to the Woodland Park Zoo. I was there to meet members of our union who work there, and Peter — a Shop Steward — was going to be my guide.
Peter has worked as a zookeeper for over twenty years both as a Teamster and as part of the nearly 90% of private sector US workers who do not belong to a union*. When I asked him about the difference, he said it was staggering. Job security was on top of the list as he mentioned that zoo keeping is one of the rare professions where job longevity is common as well as valuable.
Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic standing together for fairness and equity.
Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic Services filled our Union hall yesterday to demand equal pay for equal work. Drivers are in contract negotiations with their employer and are heading into discussions about economics this week.
The drivers work the same routes and drive the same trucks as their counterparts who haul away the garbage and yet they are compensated significantly less for their efforts.
"We do the same job, we're driving the same equipment, we're on the road more because the facilities we work at are farther away. Why shouldn't we be paid equally?" said George Blakey, a Shop Steward who has driven for the company for thirteen years.
"It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do."
Fabio Desimone, a 23-year Teamster, who works out of Republic's yard in Kent, agrees.
"Even the company is saying that we do the exact same job; they tell us that at our safety meetings. The route managers will come up and say we deserve to have parity. It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do. Same trucks, same job, same uniforms, same routes. Everything that we do is the exact same thing."
After yesterday's meeting, the drivers began wearing buttons and distributing petitions demanding parity. "We rolled the petition out yesterday," Blakey said. "We've already got over 300 signatures."
Republic is fully aware of our position and concerns surrounding the disparate compensation for its drivers," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, who is leading the negotiations. "Recycle and yard waste drivers are standing together to insist on equitable pay and comparable working conditions across the industry."
Our Union bargaining team will be at the table with Republic all week. The drivers contract expires on May 31. The membership will hold a meeting on June 4 to either vote on a contract offer or to vote to authorize a strike.
Please support drivers! Sign on to the petition demanding equal pay for equal work in the solid waste industry!
On May 1, International Workers Day is celebrated around the globe to commemorate the dedication, struggle, and sacrifice of working people.
As a Union, we will be participating in Seattle's annual May Day March and Rally to speak out against proposed policy changes at the local, state and federal level that would harm working families and their unions.
We will be meeting today at Judkins Park (611 20th Ave. S.) in Seattle starting at 12 noon. Look for the Teamster banners and join us for the march!
Members and their families at our Immigration Resource Fair on April 22 at the Union hall in Tukwila.
About 50 members of Teamsters 117 and their families met at the Union hall in Tukwila on Saturday to attend our Immigration and Community Resource Fair.
Members browsed resource tables from several local advocacy organizations while their kids played board games and watched movies across the hall.
Our Comite Latino caucus grilled carne asada and veggie burgers, which they served with an assortment of salsas, cilantro, radishes, and onions.
The event featured three 30-minute know-your-rights trainings provided by one of our partner organizations, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo. The trainings were well attended and the feedback was positive.
"Our immigrant members are facing many challenges," said Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy. "We are happy to provide critical community and legal resources to ensure that our members know their rights in the workplace and in the community."
Check out photos from the event on our Flickr page here.
Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 65 Zookeepers, Warehousers, and Veterinary Technicians at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Congratulations to our members at the Woodland Park Zoo on their new contract!
Members voted to ratify the agreement yesterday. The vote was unanimous - 100% voted in favor of approving the proposal.
The agreement includes wage increases in each year of the contract and eliminates a controversial merit pay system.
"Our members at the zoo do essential work that benefits all of us," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They care for the animals, teach conservation and ecology, and help bring joy to the over 1 million visitors to the zoo each year. They deserve a contract that reflects the valuable contributions they make to our community."
Shop Steward Peter Miller was inspired by the vote:
"Everything I learned in shop steward training paid off: listening, hearing, organizing, surveying, sharing and supporting. But most of all believing. Believing that if you really want to make changes, it can happen. Your union is not only that negotiator and business rep and shop steward. It is you and in what you believe to be how you want the terms and conditions of your employment to be. "
It was an impressive sight. Fifty volunteers, all union members, coming together to fight homelessness. Teamsters working together with Machinists, working with members of the Building Trades and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.
The group set out to build two tiny houses at our Teamsters Union hall on Saturday, and they succeeded in spectacular fashion. The new structures will be transported to a local homeless camp in the coming weeks.
"With all of the uncertainty in our world, this represents hope," said Cynthia Adams, a member of our Local 117 Executive Board who works at King County, as she observed the group's progress.
The volunteers hammered out the frames in just a few hours, added siding, insulation, doors, windows, and a roof. One house was completely finished by day's end. The second house is nearly completed as well.
"What a fantastic project," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "We are proud to give back to our community by adding Teamster labor to this great cause. Thank you to the many volunteers who lent a hand in this effort. You make our union and our community strong."