Margarita Martinez fought to win a massive settlement for her co-workers at Leadpoint/Republic.
At the Republic Services recycling depot in downtown Seattle, members of Teamsters 117 process thousands of tons of paper, metals, and plastics daily. Trucks snake into the 3rd and Lander facility to dump their loads, which our members bulldoze and bundle for rail transport to locations across the West.
An essential part of the work requires careful sorting of the materials. Republic subcontractor, Leadpoint, employs hundreds at the Seattle facility to perform this work. This painstaking, dirty, and dangerous job has resulted in serious industrial accidents. In 2015, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined Leadpoint $77,600 for serious safety violations at its Material Recovery Center in Vancouver, WA.
In 2016, our union discovered something else: Leadpoint was treating its Seattle employees like garbage, and Republic Services was complicit in the abuse. Workers were locked out of bathrooms, forced to change into their gear in the parking lot, and paid below Seattle’s minimum wage standards. Leadpoint employees who tried to organize a union were subjected to harassment and intimidation.
Margarita Martinez was one of those workers. An ardent union supporter, Martinez was sent home by company management without pay on several occasions. Neither Leadpoint nor Republic could offer a good explanation for the discipline.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.