James Borsum will be representing Local 117 members in the recycle and dairy industries.
James Borsum got an early start as a Teamster, when he went to work at Sysco, in the food service industry, at the ripe old age of 18.
At Sysco, the benefits were better than his previous employer, wages were higher, and best of all, it was a union shop. Borsum bounced around at Sysco, selecting groceries, loading trucks and docking freight. After seven years, he bid into a position as a driver, and ultimately became one of the group’s shop stewards.
Borsum always wanted to be more involved in the union. “As a steward, you can stand up to the employer and say this is wrong, you need to fix it,” he said.Read more
When disaster strikes, Teamsters roll in to help out. That’s what three members at Republic Services did when their boss asked for volunteers to help clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that devastated south Texas earlier this month.
One of them was Ben Goodrich, a Local 117 residential yard waste driver, who has serviced neighborhoods in Snohomish County for the last ten years.
Ben jumped at the idea of pitching in to assist in the hurricane relief effort. “I felt I could come down here and work my ass off and help clean this place up, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said.
Ben says he's witnessed destruction on a colossal scale. He’s been especially struck by the number of displaced people – families moving into hotels and living on the streets. “It’s pretty humbling."
Since arriving in Houston just after Labor Day, he has been at it 10-12 hours a day, hauling away mounds of rubbish from houses, some of which were fully submerged in the floodwaters. He plans to continue aiding in the effort until at least September 23.Read more
Teamster recycle and yard waste drivers who work at Republic Services achieved an historic victory yesterday.
With the terms of their new contract, the group accomplished a goal that they had pursued for more than three decades: Wages and working conditions that are equitable with the garbage drivers.
In every negotiation for the past 30 years, the group has made wage parity a priority. But achieving it has been easier said than done.
The inequity in the industry can be traced back to the 1980s when cities like Seattle first launched their municipal recycling programs. At that time, garbage was the moneymaker for solid waste companies; recycling was not.
That dynamic shifted as cities implemented programs like the “Wasteless in Seattle” initiative, which set ambitious goals for diverting garbage from landfills by recycling and lowering disposal, transportation, and energy costs.Read more
Contract Offer is Subject to Ratification by the Membership; Recycle and Yard Waste Drivers Will Vote on Proposal Soon
Late last night, Teamsters Local 117 achieved a fully-recommended offer with Republic Services over a contract involving 120 recycle and yard waste drivers employed at the company’s locations in Bellevue, Seattle, Lynnwood and Kent.
The contract proposal is subject to ratification by the membership. Members will have an opportunity to consider and vote on the offer in the next few weeks.
"Recycle and yard waste drivers perform difficult, dangerous work to protect the public health and keep our neighborhoods clean," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117 and the lead negotiator for the Union. “We will be bringing our members together soon to discuss this contract proposal and to bring the offer to a vote.”
Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy expressed his gratitude to Chuck Stiles, the Assistant Director of the Solid Waste and Recycle Division at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “Chuck was our single source of support from the IBT and he stayed in constant contact during the negotiations from the beginning of our contract campaign.”
Many other Teamsters, union members, community groups, and volunteers also supported the workers during the campaign.
The old contract between the Teamsters and Republic Services expired on May 31, 2017.
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.
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.Read more
Yard waste and recycle drivers at Republic Services are standing together for fairness and equity. They work at the same locations, drive the same routes in the same trucks, and wear the same uniforms as their counterparts who haul away the garbage and yet they are compensated significantly less for their work. Please support them!
All Teamsters deserve fair and equitable compensation, whether they pick up trash, yard waste, or recyclables. All solid waste drivers perform dangerous, challenging work to keep our communities clean and safe. Same route. Same pay.
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!