Kent residents received no garbage, recycling or yard waste service on Wednesday, January 12, due to a temporary work stoppage by union members in honor of striking teammates in San Diego.
“The Puget Sound Recycling and Yard Waste Drivers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 117 and work at Republic Services, honor the picket lines that have been established by the striking San Diego Teamsters,” according to a statement from Teamsters 117 to Tukwila. “Sanitation workers in California Local 542 went on picket lines early this morning at company facilities in Bellevue, Lynnwood, Kent and Seattle. ”
Garbage drivers also graced the picket lines. In total, more than 300 teammates refused to cross the picket lines at all four locations.
Republic Services emailed the following response to the Kent Reporter.
“Republic Services is experiencing a temporary work stoppage at our Seattle-area sites,” according to the company’s media department. “It has to do with a workforce problem in California that has nothing to do with employees in Washington. We are taking the necessary steps to minimize downtime, and thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we work to resolve this temporary issue. “
Republic Services, which contacted customers on Wednesday morning regarding the work stoppage, said customers will be allowed to take out double their usual gear on their next regular service collection day. The company spokesperson declined to say how long the shutdown could last.
The 250 members of Teamsters Local 542 in California have been on strike since December 17, 2021 after the company refused to bargain in good faith and failed to respond to workers’ demands for improved safety conditions in contract negotiations, according to Teamsters.
The Teamsters said in solidarity with the San Diego Teamsters, Local 117 waste and recycling drivers, who serve communities in the Puget Sound area, exercised their contractual rights and honored the picket lines of Local 542 at the four Republic Services sites.
“Our members stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the Teamsters in San Diego who are fighting for a fair contract,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Rather than calling a strike, Republic Services should honor the workers who braved the pandemic to provide essential sanitation services that help keep our communities safe and healthy. “
The union said workers were on strike over concerns over excessive overtime, pandemic safety and harassment from managers.
In 2020, Republic Services earned more than $ 10 billion, with a net profit of $ 1.2 billion, while the total compensation of its CEO was over $ 12 million, according to the Teamsters statement. . Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Gates’ investment advisor sits on Republic’s board of directors.
In addition to Kent, Republic serves Bellevue, Hunts Point, Medina, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, North Bend, Auburn, Sammamish, Renton, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Lynnwood, Monroe, Edmonds and commercial waste disposal in the city of Seattle.
Teamsters Local 117 represents 17,000 people working in Washington State, including 130 recycling and yard waste drivers who are employed by Republic Services.