Charging that Waste Management is intimidating employees and engaging in other unfair labor practices, the company’s recycling and yard waste truck drivers went on strike Wednesday morning, setting up pickets at several facilities.
Contract talks between Waste Management, which maintains its regional headquarters in Kirkland, and Teamsters Local 117 broke down last month. The 153 drivers have been working without a contract since the previous one expired on May 31.
Paul Zilly, Local 117 spokesman, said that the company has been threatening, coercing and retaliating against workers and that the strike will continue until it returns to the bargaining table.
“It’s going to take Waste Management returning to the bargaining table and bargaining in good faith,” he said. “They have refused to do that and have refused to listen to listen to our offer. This dispute is about Waste Management refusing outright to bargain with our members in good faith.”
A press release by Local 177 said the National Labor Relations Boards is investigating several violations by the company.
Zilly said the drivers want a contract comparable to that of other drivers in the industry. The Local 117 press release said driving waste trucks is a dangerous job and that since 2005, four Local 117 members in the industry have been killed on the job.
Many of the drivers were out on their routes when the union called the strike at 10 a.m., so many Waste Management customers did receive service Wednesday morning. Parts of Woodinville will not get trash picked up Wednesday.
The Local 117 press release urged residents and businesses served by Waste Management to call 1-800-230-7418 to report recycle, yard waste, and garbage service disruptions and visit www.seattletrashwatch.org for updates and information. Customers can also get service updates at the company website, www.wmnorthwest.com.
Patch has put in calls to Waste Management officials and will update this story as soon as they respond. In the past the company has denied Local 117 charges in the dispute and said it has offered drivers a total compensation package exceeding $98,000 in the final year of a new six-year contract.
For a previous Patch story on the dispute, click here.