Garbage Haulers Back on Strike

Republic Services-Allied Waste garbage truck drivers in Youngstown and across the state went back on strike Monday, according to the company.

The drivers from Teamsters Local 377 went back on a “sympathy strike” to support workers at the Carbon Limestone Landfill that have been on strike since March 27.

“We’re going to stand with the landfill workers as long as it takes, and there’s other locals throughout the country that are honoring these picket lines, said Sam Cook, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 377. “I don’t know how long it will be depending on what happens with the unfair labor practice, and what happens with Republic at this time. This could be a lengthy sympathy strike this time.”

The drivers went on strike for six days after the landfill workers began striking.  The strike caused ire in customers whose trash remained on their curbside days after their scheduled pick up.

The drivers went back to work April 3, until going back on strike Monday.

Drivers for Teamsters unions in Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland refused to cross picket lines on Monday, according to the union. About 600 drivers, helpers and mechanics protested on Monday.

“These forms of bullying and harassment are unconscionable,” said Teamsters Director of Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “And the abuse is not just limited to workers. Communities should also be aware of what Republic is doing to put their residents’ health and risk. Republic’s record of endangering the public is getting worse— just ask Missouri and Ohio.”

The union in a statement claimed Republic Services-Allied Waste intimidated workers and broke federal laws during contract negotiations. The company said customers should expect delays.

“We appreciate the patience of our customers during this time as members of Teamsters Local 377 have gone on a sympathy strike,” Republic Services-Allied Waste Youngstown General Manager Doug Dunn said in a brief emailed statement. “We want to assure all of our customers that while their normal service will be delayed, we are working to ensure that their waste and recycling will be picked up as soon as possible.”

Teamsters said the company has taken up to $40 per month from employees paychecks for “tobacco” or “spouse” surcharges, even if they don’t smoke or their spouses have no other health insurance option.

The Teamsters and company have both claimed unfair labor practices as reasons for the strike. The two sides met twice last week but reached no agreement.

Republic Services have accused the union of unfair labor practices and refusing to bargain in good faith.

The company said the union began an “unlawful strike” because the union never made a wage proposal despite the company asking several times during their seven months of negotiations, Republic said in a statement.

The company has asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the union for unfair labor practices.

The Teamsters union also accused Republic of unfair labor practices. The 106-member union said the 23 landfill workers went on strike because Republic changed working conditions without bargaining with the union. They also said the company refused to provide “pertinent information related to bargaining.”

Republic officials have said the key sticking point in the negotiations is the union’s refusal to withdraw from Central States Pension Fund.

Republic Services-Allied Waste officials said earlier this month that their employees’ Central States Pension fund will be insolvent in 10 years. They tried to encourage employees to take a lump sum payment and re-invest in a 401(k).

Other Teamsters unions went on strike last week in Evansville, Ind., and Urbana, Ill., in support of the Youngstown union in late March.

The Teamsters claim Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues topped $8.1 billion in 2011 and made $572 million in profit.

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