Day nine and my garbage is still not picked up. My cat brought home a rat this past week (first time in the six years I’ve lived there) and we now have coyotes spotted in the area too (due to the garbage, I believe). I had to kill the rat with my bb gun and cats are now house-bound due to coyotes. Ugh. And why isn’t garbage being picked up? Take a wild guess…
Striking Waste Management drivers call customers with warning
Komo News: As pickup service resumes for some Waste Management residential customers, striking drivers have taken to the phones to get their side of the story out to many customers.
Countless residents have reported receiving robocalls left on their voicemail from people describing themselves as a Waste Management driver. The calls specifically address the company’s decision to hire replacement drivers.
“Waste Management is substituting us with drivers from out of state who may not be qualified to drive heavy garbage trucks on our region’s dangerous roads,” says one robocall. “Please be careful. Make sure your children stay out of the way of the trucks. Call police if you see something dangerous.”
Waste Management maintains it has hired an ample number of replacement drivers, some of them on a permanent basis. Spokeswoman Robin Freedman says Waste Management is taking its best candidates from a recent job fair and running recruitment ads.
The walkout has affected 217,000 customers in the Seattle-Everett area. Some business owners have angrily paid to dump their own trash. In neighborhoods, flies are circling curbside garbage bins where trash has started to stink in the 70-degree summer weather. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department urged residents to keep garbage enclosed to avoid attracting raccoons and bears.
Using replacement drivers from around the country, Waste Management has been offering limited service to priority commercial customers such as restaurants. Now, the company is screening applicants for permanent replacement jobs, spokeswoman Robin Freedman said.
“Our drivers have chosen to enter into a strike. We have an obligation to the community, so we’re going to hire replacement workers to get the job done,” she said. Waste Management has the contract to collect waste in 60 percent of Seattle.
About 150 yard waste and recycling truck drivers represented by Local 117 walked out on July 25 after their contract expired at the end of May. About 350 garbage truck drivers represented by Local 174 are not crossing picket lines.
Local 117 wants to close a gap of about $9 an hour between the yard waste-recycling truck drivers and the garbage haulers. They drive similar trucks and the same routes and deserve the same pay, the union says.
Waste Management says it’s offering a six-year deal that would raise average salaries from $58,000 to $68,000 a year. If benefits are included, the offer is worth $98,000 a year to a driver at the end of the sixth year, the company said.
The median household annual income in 2011 in King County was about $54,000 and in Snohomish County about $51,000, the state Office of Financial Management estimated.
Teamsters Local 117 has accused Waste Management of intimidation and refusing to bargain in good faith. Members are not concerned about losing their jobs because they expect the National Labor Relations Board to agree that Waste Management has committed unfair labor practices, spokeswoman Brenda Wiest said. Hiring replacement workers is “another bullying tactic to intimidate and threaten drivers instead of bargaining in good faith,” she said.
No new talks have been announced as tension and pressure mount, like the growing mounds of garbage bags at many homes and businesses.
Bullying tactics? Like their robocalls telling people to call the police?
The salary package they offer sounds pretty darn good for the skills required for this job – basically a high school education, commercial driver’s license, lifting, and ability to handle the smell. Waste Management started airing radio commercials yesterday morning for replacement truck drivers. By noon, they already had 250 applicants.
These union thugs are dangerous and greedy. With unemployment still above 8% you’d think they would be happy just to have a job.
Update: The union & Waste Management reached a deal on Wednesday night. No details available yet on contract specifics. Union to vote on Thursday to ratify contract.