Seattle-area drivers seeking higher pay
SEATTLE – A strike by Waste Management recycling and yard waste truck drivers has halted trash collection in much of King and Snohomish counties as garbage truck drivers honored the picket lines.
Waste Management spokeswoman Robin Freedman said nearly 217,000 customers were affected in all. The recycling and yard waste drivers walked out Wednesday.
Picket lines went up at several Waste Management facilities, according to the Teamsters Local 117, the union representing drivers.
A different union, Teamsters Local 174, represents the drivers of Waste Management’s garbage trucks, who are honoring the strike, as is allowed by their contract, said union spokesman Michael Gonzales.
Waste Management picks up garbage, recycling and yard waste in some parts of Seattle, all of the rest of surrounding King County, as well as south Snohomish County, not including the city of Everett, according to Freedman.
The company and the union had been negotiating for months. The union wants higher pay to match garbage truck drivers, who reportedly earn $9 more per hour than recycling drivers.
In June, Waste Management trained temporary drivers to help in the event of a work stoppage.
The company offered the striking drivers what it is calling its final contract offer in June: a six-year deal that would result in total compensation of $98,023 in the final year, Freedman said.
“We’re deeply dismayed that this is the choice that the union leadership took. It was an unnecessary, disappointing move,” she said.
Teamsters Local 117 has complained to the National Labor Relations Board about violations by the company including bad-faith bargaining, coercion of employees and threats of retaliation. The union is asking the company to return to the bargaining table, said Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson.
“Waste Management has forced this labor dispute through its blatant disregard of U.S. laws,” he said in a statement.
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