Update: Recycling, yard-waste truck drivers on strike against Waste Management; garbage truck drivers walk out too

July 25, 2012 at 11:30 am | In Utilities, Waste Management strike, West Seattle news | 38 Comments

(UPDATED 9:13 PM with Times story link noting that garbage=truck drivers walked out too)

(Photo added 12:56 pm – at WM NW facility on West Marginal Way)
11:30 AM: The labor dispute has been simmering for months, and now, as of less than an hour ago, Teamsters Local 117 says its recycling and yard-waste drivers are on strike against Waste Management in King and Snohomish counties. More to come.

12:17 PM: No formal statements yet from WM nor from the city regarding how this is expected to affect service, but we’ve got requests out, and will add information as we get it. So far the first citywide-media coverage we’ve seen is at KING5.com.

12:58 PM: Just added a photo of strikers outside WM’s West Marginal Way facility. Also just received this WM statement:

After more than six months of contract negotiations and sixteen comprehensive proposals, Waste Management was disappointed that Teamsters Local 117 decided to strike today. “We are perplexed that the Union chose to go out on strike and negatively impact the public in this way. This was simply unnecessary, especially considering the fair and generous last, best and final package offered to Teamsters Local 117 over four weeks ago,” said Robin Freedman of Waste Management. “Once again the Union leadership has chosen political gamesmanship rather than allowing their members to vote on the offer.”

The company is now shifting their focus to customer communications and implementing their contingency plan.

Collection Schedules
Not knowing the length of this strike, WM encourages customers to place their materials at the curb according to their regular collection schedule. If materials are not collected by the end of the day, bring them in and WM will collect a double load on your next collection day. Please check the WM website for daily collection information at www.wmnorthwest.com

ADDED 4:04 PM: Seattle Public Utilities has now sent an advisory to customers – if you’re reading this from the home page, it’s after the jump:

As a strike by Teamster Union Local 117 continues, Waste Management is reporting that nearly all of its business and residential garbage, recycling and yard waste collections have stopped in Seattle today — and that many routes, in all wastes streams, will likely remain uncollected by the end of today.

The company also warns of continuing disruptions in solid waste collections tomorrow, Thursday, July 26.

Seattle Public Utilities SPU) asks recycling customers who were missed for collection today to put out their recycling next Wednesday, Aug. 1. There will be no charge for additional items placed at the curb.

Thursday customers should put their garbage, yard waste and recycling out before 7 a.m. tomorrow.

The strike could affect about 60 percent of the city, in Northwest and South Seattle (see attached map). Teamster Local 117’s contract with Waste Management expired May 31. In Seattle, Local 117 represents only recycling drivers, and other drivers are covered by separate labor agreements. However, Waste Management is reporting that yard and garbage drivers also stopped collecting today.

Collections by CleanScapes, which covers about 40 percent of the city (see map) are not impacted by the strike.

SPU Director Ray Hoffman said that although the City of Seattle is not part of the negotiations between Waste Management and the Teamsters, he expects the two parties continue to engage in good faith negotiations toward a speedy and successful outcome.

Under its contract with the city, Waste Management is required to continue services in the event of any disruption. Specifically, any missed collections due to any labor complications must be collected later in the week, or the following week. Waste Management will not be paid for any non-service.

The contract allows the city to deduct approximately $4,500 per day in payments to Waste Management for any services that are not completed the next day. For any interruptions that continue more than a week, contractors can also be fined substantially for service failure, up to $250,000 per day.

“Protecting public health and safety will continue to be the city’s guiding principle throughout this collection disruption,” Hoffman said.

SPU will provide updates as needed. Customers with solid waste service issues or concerns may call the Call Center at (206) 684-3000.

Customers with labor/union questions or concerns should contact Waste Management or Teamsters Local 174.

9:13 PM UPDATE: An update from The Seattle Times (WSB partner) tonight clarifies that Teamsters garbage-truck drivers are off the job too, in a show of support for the recycling/yard-waste drivers. But as noted above, if you have pickup tomorrow, you are advised to get your can(s) out as usual anyway.

38 Comments

  1. No sympathy, whatever their beef. That job just gets easier and easier.

    Comment by dsa — 11:34 am July 25, 2012 #

  2. ….Said by someone who has never done the job I’m sure.

    Comment by HatMomma — 12:24 pm July 25, 2012 #

  3. My recycling was picked up this morning but my garbage wasn’t. ??

    Comment by GoGo — 12:27 pm July 25, 2012 #

  4. The real issue:
    http://www.seattletrashwatch.org/
    A central issue in bargaining has been the large compensation disparity between recycle and garbage drivers in our region. On average, garbage haulers earn $9/hr more in total compensation than their recycle driver counterparts.

    I love how the union says safety is the issue in the statement they made.
    “We call on Waste Management to return to the bargaining table immediately and bargain a fair contract in good faith that recognizes the health and safety hazards its drivers face on the job”

    http://www.teamsters117.org/index.cfm?zone=/unionactive/view_article.cfm&HomeID=252232

    Comment by wsea — 12:35 pm July 25, 2012 #

  5. GoGo – We’re still waiting to hear from the city and WM regarding the collection situation. I also remember talk once about whether the garbage-truck drivers would honor the strike. There had been a lot of noise and posturing on multiple sides about this up until about the middle of last month … then nothing for weeks … so this feels like it hit out of the blue, and I would imagine there are some strategy/planning situations frantically happening right now. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:39 pm July 25, 2012 #

  6. Keep in mind that the executives and owners and management of this firm are all VERY well paid. They want to hold down wages while increasing executive pay.
    .
    They expect the customers to be billed as if we were paying for union jobs, but then instead of using that money to pay workers, they can use the money for executive raises.
    .
    Sure, in this economy they could find workers willing to do the job for less money, but it’s not like they are planning on passing the savings on to the customers.
    .
    The company will be sending out press releases stating a pay rate that seems very high. Keep in mind that those numbers will include fees the company pays directly to the government that are indeed part of the company’s costs but are not usually thought of as “income” or “pay”.
    .

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 12:48 pm July 25, 2012 #

  7. Uh oh… I just filled the yard waste bin. Looks like I’m going to have to jump up and down in it to pack it for next week.

    Comment by TanDL — 12:48 pm July 25, 2012 #

  8. HatMomma +1

    Comment by datamuse — 1:15 pm July 25, 2012 #

  9. If you realized what these guys were getting paid, you would not have any sympathy. The drivel being put out by the Union is ridiculous. You want a dangerous job, join the army and get paid about half what these drivers are making.

    Comment by nunya bisnes — 1:21 pm July 25, 2012 #

  10. Probably the best thing to do would be to pass a garbage and recycling levy.

    Comment by Tuesday — 1:21 pm July 25, 2012 #

  11. aww shoot- just put out an over-flowing recycling bin this morning. sorry neighbors who will have to see the bins for a week. I can’t get FULL bins UP the stairs and back to the house. at least we have one of the smaller size garbage cans. will they pick up recycling next week instead? I don’t have 2 more weeks of room in there.

    Comment by sam-c — 1:26 pm July 25, 2012 #

  12. i’m with nunya bisnes….the poor military that does actually have health and safety issues and getting paid squat. my husband has been laid off since February so I’m really not too sympathetic. it’s just another union tactic that is really only interested in power and money…not the people they supposedly represent.

    Comment by pb — 1:52 pm July 25, 2012 #

  13. I totally get the publics irritation with this whole thing. However being a driver I did not vote for the strike. I just want to work and provide for my family. I do agree that the garbage drivers do make alot more than us. I drive the same trucks, pull the same heavy dumpsters, and deal with nasty garbage and sharps.

    Comment by Recycle driver — 2:01 pm July 25, 2012 #

  14. I’m wondering in what alternate universe ANY American’s job has gotten easier in the past few years. Everyone I know works harder for the same or less money.
    .
    Look at it this way: higher wages for the Teamsters = more money into the local economy. Pretty simple math, really.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 2:04 pm July 25, 2012 #

  15. The top five executive at WM made a combined total of $17M in direct compensation. WM as a company pulled down a profit of just shy of $1B….

    WM can probably afford to pay truck drivers the same across the board

    Comment by Fred Johnson — 2:05 pm July 25, 2012 #

  16. I have a feeling my garbage bill is about to go up.

    Comment by WB — 2:26 pm July 25, 2012 #

  17. Based on some of the comments in this thread, we’ll soon be a country of burger flippers and 1/4 millionaires+

    WM is a classic example of the anti–union, corporate model. Buy-out the competition, assure payola to public official, stick it to the consumer. BS! I would rather side with those doing the work than those profiting from it.

    Comment by Oh man — 3:57 pm July 25, 2012 #

  18. What I find sad is that we pay the people who collect our trash double what we pay the people who teach our children.

    Comment by Huindekmi — 4:36 pm July 25, 2012 #

  19. I will chip in with a new garbage collection idea. When we were on vacation, the city we were in charges you for a bundle of city authorized waste bags (they also charge a bundle per bag-like $5 a 20 gallaon bag). But….you choose when the bag gets pickep up (when its entirely full, you pet it out for collection). Thus, you really only pay for the garbage you put out, and re-buy bags from the city when you need them. Thought it was a creative solution to “getting what you pay for” and efficient.

    Comment by george — 5:06 pm July 25, 2012 #

  20. Give me a break, not all strikes are equal. These are very well paid laborers who are doing a – relatively – unskilled job. What ever happened to the idea of a meritocracy, where you get paid according to special skills or talents? This is simply union strong-arm tactics – give it to me.

    Comment by G — 5:34 pm July 25, 2012 #

  21. Huindekmi: What I find sad is that we pay the people who teach our children double what we pay the people that feed and clean up after our children.

    Comment by mitchbarker — 6:05 pm July 25, 2012 #

  22. I can understand the Garbage drivers (assuming they also have to clean out their trucks) being paid more than the recycle drivers because garbage is filled with nasty things and recycle is relatively clean. But yard waste, because it’s also food waste, is just as gross as garbage, so those drivers should be paid the same.

    Comment by Ms. Sparkles — 6:34 pm July 25, 2012 #

  23. Not sure if this explains why the recycling and yard waste trucks came in the late afternoon yesterday instead of the usual early-mid morning, since they didn’t strike until today. Sorry to those of you who didn’t have a pickup at all today – that stinks (no pun intended).

    Comment by Amy — 6:51 pm July 25, 2012 #

  24. If it were a true meritocracy, would Mastro have $$$ to run away with? Would the bond traders who foreclosed on Grammie be able to vacation in the Caribbean and Aspen? Did these folks get what they deserve? Not yet.

    Comment by Oh man — 8:34 pm July 25, 2012 #

  25. Indeed, my yard waste and recycling were picked up in the Holden/31st area, however, not so the garbage. Are they not picking up in support of the yard waste/recycling folks? If so, I guess a “duh” question, who should I contact? We were downsized without our consent to a smaller trash can (per our landlords) and have been vigilant about recycling and the like but we do still have some garbage and right now, it’s full! It’s a very tiny can and the yard waste and the recycle are always full. We are doing our part and then some I would say.

    Comment by gemella — 9:08 pm July 25, 2012 #

  26. Gem – See the last part of the story, with the news release from the city. Call that number in the morning. It seems the garbage drivers are off the job in support of the recycling/yard waste drivers, per this update from the Times:
    .
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018773035_strike26m.html

    Comment by WSB — 9:12 pm July 25, 2012 #

  27. Thanks guys, I may not be the only one guilty of not reading the entire article and attachments…or so I hope.

    Comment by gemella — 9:21 pm July 25, 2012 #

  28. 107k / year is the compensation for garbage haulers. surely the recycle and yard waste guys deserve this paltry wage too, right? I mean the greedy capitalist scum at wm only offered them 98k, whats a guy to do?

    Comment by resident — 9:22 pm July 25, 2012 #

  29. Scabs can’t provide the service customers deserve. Stay strong brothers. This retired Boilermaker Local 502 supports you.

    Comment by Larry — 10:57 pm July 25, 2012 #

  30. Yes, stay strong brothers. However, you will need more than retired Larry’s support when the rent is due and they shut off your electricity. I’m sure your union brother will be more than happy to help pay your bills or will the union fat cat bosses be the ones to give up part of their 6 figure salaries to help you out. I doubt either one happens? Unions are out dated and really serve no purpose anymore. If you like the job and the pay keep working. If you hate your job and what you are being paid leave. Most of those drivers on strike couldn’t find another job making the same wage, so watch out, you know what happened in Oakland, CA.

    Comment by J J — 12:38 am July 26, 2012 #

  31. Allied waste step up to the plate waste management the number one trash company shows the really don’t care about there employes

    Comment by K Evans — 4:29 am July 26, 2012 #

  32. I get to try out my new mini wood chipper. Cool.

    “History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.”
    – Martin Luther King Jr

    Comment by Ken — 6:19 am July 26, 2012 #

  33. If the city experiment currently underway, which cuts frequency of waste pick up to once every two weeks, is “successful”, one might conclude that half these people will lose their jobs altogether.

    The city (citizens) will save some money and more people will be unemployed and not able to contribute to our local economy.

    Comment by Kay K — 8:12 am July 26, 2012 #

  34. According to Glassdoor, Waste Management drivers make an average of $17/hr. To make $107K, a driver would have to work 80 hr/wks. Don’t think so.

    You probably think teachers make too much money too…

    Comment by Oh man — 11:02 am July 26, 2012 #

  35. JJ you couldn’t have hit the nail harder. I love hearing union folks talk of strike. But do they give money to those that are actually striking. Of course not. They just want to keep the dream of out dated unions alive.

    Comment by haha — 12:38 pm July 26, 2012 #

  36. Keep track of ALL days your bins aren’t “collected” to ensure the city doesn’t charge you. Monitor your bill…

    Comment by WTF — 3:41 pm July 26, 2012 #

  37. I wish I made what the drivers make……but at under 30k I support 6 people and get nasty notes if we accidently throw away something that is recyclable. Waste Management gets good money for our recycleables and we get charged for the privledge of cleaning them all and separating them for them. Just don’t get making that kind of money………..I’m trying though!I know it’s fair pay and all but if I take my trash myself I’m not going to get a refund for what I spent. But on the other hand in this heat letting it set for another week is not sanitary.

    Comment by I wish — 8:35 pm July 26, 2012 #

  38. isn’t nice they pull this when its hot. although I can take my stuff to the transfer station. anyone need a ride?

    Comment by haha — 6:03 pm July 28, 2012 #

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