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
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy (l), Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin (c), and Tyson Lapilio (r) at the Memphis MLK March
Tyson Lapilio, a Teamster at Republic Services, joined Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin in Memphis for the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division conference earlier this month. Lapilio penned this excellent piece capturing his experiences at the event:
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
David Storaasli and his wife Jessica. David joined our Local 117 staff as a Union Representative in January.
Talk about your experience becoming a Teamster.
I got hired with Waste Management about 20 years ago. I liked it because they were offering “union-like” benefits. When I got the job, they said, “You’re going to be a Teamster.” I was very excited. My father was a Teamster for 48 years with the West Coast Grocery company. My grandfather was an organizer in the ‘30s. Being a Teamster is what our family has always done.
Why did you get involved in the Union in the first place?
I’d been at Waste Management about a year. There was a contract that needed to be negotiated, so I said, “I’ll do it.” From that day forward, I was the Shop Steward. I learned that if you’re willing to sit down and have a conversation rather than going straight to the FUs, you can actually work through some stuff.
If there is something you can achieve with your members, what would it be?
I love to teach people. Once they learn it, I can say, “Let’s do it. You go forward, you’re in charge of it. If you have a question, ask me.”
"There is always someone within the Teamsters organization that is willing to help you."
We're building a labor organization that really empowers members. We’re trying to do something where we are making a difference.Read more
New buttons just in! Our recycle and yard waste drivers perform the same difficult, dangerous work as other drivers in the industry. We'll be working next year to make sure their compensation reflects that.
Over a dozen Teamster drivers at Republic Services in Bellevue sent messages of solidarity this morning to their brothers and sisters in Zanesville, Ohio, who are fighting to win a voice at work.
The Zanesville drivers filed a petition recently with the National Labor Relations Board for a Union election to certify Teamsters Local 637 as their exclusive bargaining representative.
"We support you as you fight to get a voice on the job."
Marty White, who has been with Republic for 4.5 years, encouraged the Zanesville drivers to vote Teamsters. "Joining the Union is great because you have the support of Teamsters across the country," he said.
Antonio Hernandez has been working in the solid waste industry for 21 years. "Having a Union provides strong support for me and my family," he said. "We have good wages, a pension, and job security."
All of our members at the Bellevue yard had high hopes for the organizing efforts in Zanesville. "We support you as you fight to get a voice on the job," said Tyler Ayala, a member with 4 years of service.
Thank you to everyone for such a strong display of solidarity this morning!