Waste Management strike: Company brings in ‘substitute drivers’

July 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm | In Utilities, Waste Management strike, West Seattle news | 60 Comments

(Substitute-driven WM truck photographed outside Delridge restaurant Saturday morning)
An update on the Waste Management walkout, just in from the company:

Teamsters Local 117 recycle and yard waste drivers remain on strike. Teamsters 174 garbage drivers continue to honor the picket lines.

Over the weekend, experienced WM substitute drivers made solid progress on critical stops in cities across the Puget Sound. Per our contingency plan, our second wave of experienced WM substitute drivers arrived on Saturday and Sunday. They will be deployed on Monday, July 30. Additional substitute drivers are on the way and we are beginning to hire replacement drivers identified during our job fair last month.

MONDAY COLLECTION SERVICE

Monday collection service will focus on commercial collection routes, including restaurants.
Renton will receive residential garbage collection service due to their unique every other week (EOW) collection frequency.

Please continue to check our WM website for daily collection information at www.wmnorthwest.com.

The city’s most recent update, from Friday, suggests Monday pickup customers put out their cans as usual.

The strike began at midday Wednesday; drivers had been working without a contract since late May, and took a strike-authorization vote in early June.

60 Comments

  1. Good to hear more replacement drivers are coming. Maybe they can start transitioning and hire in new local drivers. Lots of people looking for good paying jobs out there.

    Comment by Mark — 5:05 pm July 29, 2012 #

  2. “substitute drivers” don’t try to soft sell it, they’re scabs.

    Comment by Dave — 5:34 pm July 29, 2012 #

  3. I live in West Seattle down by 50th & Alaska. We got a recorded message today from Waste Management telling us not to put our cans out on Monday as they would not be picking them up.

    Comment by Lola — 5:48 pm July 29, 2012 #

  4. All three sides lose here — management, labor and the consumer (or producer as the case may be). Striking in the midst of the most severe economic ‘crisis’ in 80 years seems to be poor strategy on the labor side as management plans for a reduced revenue stream from the consumer.

    Who here would join with labor once the trash bins and recycling wheelies overflow at the second/third week of the strike? Most consumers don’t really care who collects trash/recycling as long as it gets done.

    Comment by Under Achiever — 5:53 pm July 29, 2012 #

  5. It’s hard to find information on what the strike is about. Seattle Times says wages are part of it. From a recent Times article:
    .

    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.

    Comment by DBP — 6:12 pm July 29, 2012 #

  6. That is what the union says is the “central issue.” http://www.seattletrashwatch.org/bargaining

    Comment by WSB — 6:40 pm July 29, 2012 #

  7. Yes, they’re scabs. Waste management certainly isn’t hurting for money.

    Waste Management Executive Compensation Figures for 2011:

    Total Key Executive Compensation $17,310,618

    David P. Steiner/President and Chief Executive Officer $7,436,413
    Robert G. Simpson/Former Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer $1,674,408
    James E. Trevathan/Executive Vice President, Growth, Innovation and Field Support $2,738,211
    Jeff M. Harris/Senior Vice President, Midwest Group $1,958,765
    Duane C. Woods/Senior Vice President, Western Group $1,864,245
    Steven C. Preston/Executive Vice President, Finance, Recycling and Energy Services $1,638,576

    Not bad, considering these astronomical “executive salaries” are mostly taxpayer dollars. I’d much rather see those taxpayer funds spent on worker salaries instead of more yachts, hookers, cocaine and “campaign contributions” for the executive suite.

    Comment by PSPS — 6:48 pm July 29, 2012 #

  8. That fact that they had to call a strike is indication of what kind of union leadership they have.

    Strikes are generally a no-win for all parties involved. I was involved in a disastrous strike led by inept union leadership. If I knew before the strike that I knew AFTERWARDS, I would have never, ever voted for the strike.

    Comment by G — 7:01 pm July 29, 2012 #

  9. This is about simple fairness. Waste Management isn’t being a fair employer, pay people the same money for the same job, isn’t that what equality is? How anti-American of WM.

    I don’t want scabs picking up my trash. I don’t want scabs going through my recycling. What type of person crosses a picket line? One of low morals and no code of ethics. Why do we want these people around our homes?

    Comment by Neighbor — 7:04 pm July 29, 2012 #

  10. I’m a union driver effected by this strike. I’m the sole provider for my family, I’m good with the last offer but I’m only one voice of hundreds. I’m worried about my customers and what will happen to them. I just want to work. I think that picketting is a rude and offensive step that should not of been taken. I’m sorry if you are one of my customers that I service. I hope that this is resolved soon and I can serve you again soon.

    Comment by Recycle driver — 7:08 pm July 29, 2012 #

  11. I can outlast any teamster. Striking for unskilled labor???? C’mon! Union head money grab.

    Comment by Velo_nut — 7:12 pm July 29, 2012 #

  12. the trash men/women overpayed as it stands now.
    more than teachers are paid and that just sucks

    Comment by let them swim — 7:44 pm July 29, 2012 #

  13. All the workers want is $9 more a hour. These scab substitutes cannot provide the service we are used to. WM needs to cave in and jack up your utility bill now!!

    Comment by Dunno — 8:04 pm July 29, 2012 #

  14. I’m all for labor not being taken advantage of, but $60k+ to drive a garbage truck?! and $75K+ with overtime? Absolutely ridiculous, as any other professional paying that kind of money requires graduate degrees and/or many years of professional experience. The union seems greedy to me in this one case.

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 8:08 pm July 29, 2012 #

  15. bridge to somewhere

    funny little man.

    Pick up thrash for a living compared to sitting in a comfy cube M thru F a week.

    Comment by leroy — 8:28 pm July 29, 2012 #

  16. They wouldn’t be good paying jobs without the union. I am with them til the end. A little garbage is a worthwhile price for backing up your neighbors. Those workers are not fighting for anything more than you expect for yourself. Those posting union-busting comments would do well to educate yourself on unions, maybe even by *gasp* talking to your neighbors or visiting a strike sight. If you have a job, you are benefiting from rights unions fought for. You must think you’re untouchable. If unionism ceased to exist, guess whose job they would be coming for next?

    Comment by Rainier — 8:29 pm July 29, 2012 #

  17. How about every time every non union person goes for their annual evaluation we get to see their salaries. Then we can piss and moan when you ask for a raise.
    Then when the company tells you to shove it they bring in an eager worker to replace you. Where would we be then? Then you would refer to them as what they are…..scabs.

    Comment by Joe — 9:21 pm July 29, 2012 #

  18. “I’m a union driver effected by this strike. I’m the sole provider for my family, I’m good with the last offer but I’m only one voice of hundreds. I’m worried about my customers and what will happen to them. I just want to work. I think that picketting is a rude and offensive step that should not of been taken. I’m sorry if you are one of my customers that I service. I hope that this is resolved soon and I can serve you again soon.”

    I appreciate this sentiment and am hopeful the folks who want to work will be able to return soon. In this economy, where many companies are either scaling back their workforce or their employees wages (I work for a company that instead of laying people off, cut wages and took their staff down to a 4 day week to prevent lay offs), I wonder how the Union can continue to strike and NOT expect a surge of “scabs” to come in and take the opportunity to work…there are a lot of people hurting and looking for work. I hope a fair resolution comes to pass, but not at the expense of the community as a whole. I for one can’t afford an increase in my utilities….again.

    Comment by WestSeattleFoodie — 10:02 pm July 29, 2012 #

  19. Unions breed laziness. They had their time.

    Comment by Velo_nut — 10:17 pm July 29, 2012 #

  20. “the trash men/women overpayed as it stands now.
    more than teachers are paid and that just sucks”
    .

    I think you’ve got that backward. The answer is to raise the teachers’ ridiculously low wage. Also, why jump to the conclusion that giving a raise equals an increase in utility bills? Let another company provide the service if Waste Management can’t come up with the funds. They can start by looking at that $20 million they pay their executives every year. Why is this service “privatized” (“profitized”) in the first place?

    Comment by PSPS — 10:51 pm July 29, 2012 #

  21. PSPS states things succinctly.
    So many aspects of “modern” worklife, taken for granted (40 hour work week/Overtime/Sick Pay/Vacation Pay/etc., brought to you, the contemptuous, through the BLOOD, sweat and tears of those who had the courage to stand against the egregious inequity of a rigged system where those who do the actual work are paid peanuts compared to the “executives” who make millions, for…what???

    Comment by thegodshavegonecrazy — 11:16 pm July 29, 2012 #

  22. Apple’s CEO made $387 million in 2011.

    Why does that matter? It doesn’t.

    The question is, “is $98,000 per year fair compensation for a trash collector?” ( no disrespect intended). I think it sounds fair.

    They want a $9 per hour increase, which is about $18,000+ more per year. Really? In this economy?

    Comment by JV — 11:25 pm July 29, 2012 #

  23. Unions are crucial. Support labor, not executives. Simple as that.

    Comment by Alex — 11:31 pm July 29, 2012 #

  24. We will definitely be putting up a sign in our yard that says “Don’t pick up our trash if you’re a scab! Solidarity with Teamsters Local 117!”

    Comment by FauntleeHillsFag — 12:28 am July 30, 2012 #

  25. I just need my garbage picked up. I pay for that service, and it is expensive. I think the market should set the salaries, not a union. $9 more per hour for every employee is a heck of a lot of money. Maybe recycling pays less b/c it is a less unpleasant job than garbage. Regardless, no one knows what these jobs are worth in terms of compensation because the rates are set artificially.

    I was forced to join a union a few years ago, for my type of employment is heavily unionized in the PNW. I think they set our salaries too low. This could be the same for sanitary workers, though peole on the outside may have the perception that they are over-paid.

    Comment by evergreen — 12:39 am July 30, 2012 #

  26. I will bring my cans in behind the fence.

    If WM wants to use managers and clerical staff to replace workers, that is there right. Hiring or bringing in “replacement workers” after less than a week is an indication of the reasons the company and union cannot come to an agreement. Only one side believes in the process.

    Comment by Ken — 5:34 am July 30, 2012 #

  27. They aren’t getting paid 98,000. That is a very misleading figure put out by Waste Management. I’m not impressed that WM wants to mislead me. WM would provide a table to eat lunch at, and call it a “benefit”. WM has very high costs for benefits such as worker disability insurance, due to the high risk of injuries in the field, and then tries to use those high insurance costs as pay?
    .
    The striking workers earn about $17.50/hr. And it’s not exactly unskilled. When WM has job fairs, lots of folks show up and apply, but relatively few applicants have the commercial drivers license and experience, and the qualifications to operate large heavy machinery.
    .
    WM has hired a very few replacement workers, but mostly their strategy is to break the strike by flying in workers from other parts of the country. Raises, no. Airfare and hotels and security expenses for strike breaking, yes.
    .
    WM says don’t bother putting out your residential bins today. But note that the city WANTS us to put the bins out, because city workers need to be able to count uncollected bins to apply contract provisions that withhold payment to WM for work not done.
    .

    Comment by LE — 7:28 am July 30, 2012 #

  28. Not supporting executives, but DOWN with LABOR – striking in a recession, what a cluster move on your end. Save your union dues and put that towards your RIDICULOUS increase you are demanding. I really hope all of your jobs are taken by someone that was downsized or truly in need of a job.

    Comment by Jon — 7:31 am July 30, 2012 #

  29. “Unions — The folks who brought you the weekend.”

    The recycling (and waste) workers have physically demanding jobs in very rough, often dangerous conditions. Broken glass, foul substances, heavy machinery, out in all types of weather.

    That Seattle Times “salary” figure is not what the employees get. It includes what the company figures is the value of their benefits added to the take-home pay. Why should their management rake in millions of $$$ when it’s the folks in the trenches — and alleys — who make it happen.

    The working class need to stand together even more so in tough times. Do you work for a living? Then you’re working class.

    No scabs — they lower working conditions for all of us.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 7:45 am July 30, 2012 #

  30. If each driver were responsible for some sort of FEE for every day that this strike goes by…. they would be back out there immediately… … but they don’t have to pay a dime…. so give give give… we need more money… i got news for ya… we all need more money… .. GET BACK TO WORK .. like all of us.. so we can PAY MORE to have our garbage collected later… because of this….

    Comment by Jtk — 8:02 am July 30, 2012 #

  31. I received a call yesterday that we would not have a pick up today but the news on KUOW said to put Monday garbage out as scheduled. Wondering if the PR department is on strike, too. They obviously can’t get their message straight :-)

    Comment by West Seattle Wanderer — 8:11 am July 30, 2012 #

  32. Regarding the common argument that workers should not ever strike during a recession, please consider: don’t you think WM knows some people think that? They do, and they use it as an excuse to screw over their workers more than they normally ever could, because their public support is weaker than normal.
    .
    Looking at it that way, a recession is exactly the right time to strike, as it just happens to tend to be the time management is most likely to try to take advantage. Now is exactly NOT the time to stand with the 1%.

    Comment by Alex — 8:45 am July 30, 2012 #

  33. So someone is a scab who wants to work and provide for their family?

    Comment by Parent — 9:41 am July 30, 2012 #

  34. $98k?! I have a college degree in science and with my current career path will never see that much money! Looks like I picked the wrong career, damn!

    Comment by West Seattle luv — 10:57 am July 30, 2012 #

  35. Another prime example of how unions have outlived their usefulness. Any non-skilled person would be happy to have a $20 per hour job. I say fire them all and bring in workers who apprciate the opportunity to work. I have never in my 50 year working creer had to be a part of a union to get fair pay for fair work.

    Comment by Chris — 11:05 am July 30, 2012 #

  36. Those of you complaining about how much these drivers make compared to you and your degrees do not understand how dangerous these jobs are. Trash collectors risk injury and death on the job. Do you put your physical well being on the line everyday you go to work? Didnt think so. Thats why you dont make as much money.

    Comment by Dthorne — 11:27 am July 30, 2012 #

  37. @Dthorne: a furniture mover has to work with far heavier objects than trash collectors work with, and they gain a lot of injuries (some cuts/abrasions–but also main long-term back injuries too). I guess they should make more than scientists and trash collectors combined! I’m thinking the average furniture mover should make at least $100k/year given the risk and injury they endure.

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 12:26 pm July 30, 2012 #

  38. I support the drivers. It’s unfortunate that management is playing hardball by not negotiating in good faith. This is one tough job and if you think you can do it, I’ll watch you take a siesta a 3rd through your shift after taking out cars on our residential streets. Besides, my garbage smells better than a Scab.

    Comment by 22blades — 12:30 pm July 30, 2012 #

  39. WM is not flying in workers from out-of-state. Why all the mis-information?

    Comment by NotMe — 12:38 pm July 30, 2012 #

  40. @Dthorne: Bill Gates also didn’t risk injury or death on the job, so clearly he should have earned less than a trash collector. Or Stephen Hawking should clearly make less than a trash collector, because he too doesn’t put his physical well being on the line to teach or do physics. Or a surgeon–they don’t risk their lives, so why should they make more than a trash collector too?
    .
    Intellectual work, in your estimation, is less valuable than phyiscal work. That’s a very curious stance to take. Further, consider that those people with those comfy office jobs actually sacrifice a great deal to get them, including busting their butts in high school, college, and often graduate school–and taking-on in many cases $100k+ in student loans just to get one of those jobs. It’s ridiculous to say that trash collectors deserve more than these people who sacrifice and work hard do just by looking at their physical work environment. Silly.

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 12:41 pm July 30, 2012 #

  41. West Seattle luv, are you factoring your benefits cost into that? Because that $98k figure does. Geez, people, read more carefully, please.
    .
    Bridge, do you apply that logic to police officers and firefighters as well? Just wondering.

    Comment by datamuse — 1:05 pm July 30, 2012 #

  42. Comparisons with other careers are irrelevant. So what?
    .
    We pay plenty for trash pickup. What we pay is quite sufficient to cover a decent wage.
    .

    Comment by LE — 1:28 pm July 30, 2012 #

  43. @datamuse: it’s funny you mention police officers. I believe their pay *does* reflect the obvious risk they endure in their professions. But here’s the thing: Waste Management is offering the trash collectors a package that will raise their salary to $68k a year (http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/jul/30/more-replacement-drivers-in-seattle-waste-strike/). That is more than what a starting SPD police officer earns (http://www.seattle.gov/police/jobs/benefits/salary.htm). That seems unreasonable to me that a trash collector would earn as much as a police officer, but it’s OK if you don’t agree.

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 2:07 pm July 30, 2012 #

  44. @LE: comparisons to other professions are a way of gaging whether a salary was reasonable or not. We human beings use comparisons to judge data constantly . . .

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 2:11 pm July 30, 2012 #

  45. These drivers keep saying they risk there lives on the job. When was the last time we heard of any driver getting seriously hurt on the job. We hear about every other job related injuries. We here about the cops who by the way get paid less getting shot and killed on the job. Is the trash mans job more dangerous then a cops or a inner city school teacher, or a bartender, or gas station store worker. These drivers knew what the pay was when they took the job. Only now they see other drivers with more cool stuff then they have. And now they want to have the same cool stuff. Remember when these drivers go back to work put your cans out backwards.

    Comment by boy — 2:19 pm July 30, 2012 #

  46. Just google. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Injured-trash-truck-driver-awarded-11-4-million-3578429.php

    Comment by WSB — 2:31 pm July 30, 2012 #

  47. Bridge to somewhere – your link shows that the starting police pay is actually $30.50 per hour. That’s actually quite a bit higher than the Waste Management drivers at $17.50
    .
    WM indicates a high driver wage by including 20 hours of overtime pay at time-and-a-half. The police salary page also says that overtime is paid at time-and-a-half, they just don’t use that fact to inflate their chart.
    .

    Comment by LE — 2:42 pm July 30, 2012 #

  48. This has turned into a blue collar vs. white collar debate. Fact is, it is really none of our busness what these guys make for a living. I say good for them for FIGHTING for what they want and deserve.

    Both my sister and best friend have Master Degrees in their fields and I make more than both of them! And no college for me. College is a wonderful opportunity but not for everyone and certainly no guarantee to make six digits.

    Our countrys economy is NOT getting any better anytime soon, shame on WM for taking advantage of this situation in this day and time. Greed is NOT good.

    Unions are an important part of our working class and our history.

    Unions — The folks who brought you the weekend.”

    This statements means more than you think.

    Comment by T-Rex — 3:44 pm July 30, 2012 #

  49. Intellectual work is great in my estimation, but when the garbage starts piling up I dont think Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking or the brain surgeon will be of much help. Silly.

    Comment by Dthorne — 3:50 pm July 30, 2012 #

  50. If the trash collectors are making more than the police, it sounds to me like the cops need to go on strike, too! (Oh wait, I don’t think they’re allowed to, hmmmm. LOL.) I love how nobody even READS about the multi-million-dollar salaries the WM executives make. Do you REALLY BELIEVE hiring and firing middle-managers and having meetings about stuff is worth MILLIONS of DOLLARS per year? I say fire the executives and let the middle managers run the company! (Hint- they already do!) I bet the accountants, schedulers and trainers at WM would be happy to take a slightly higher wage for being the new bosses, be happy to give the union workers what they want and still find enough cash lying around once the dead weight (executives) are gone to keep the company in good financial shape.

    Comment by cascadianone — 4:25 pm July 30, 2012 #

  51. SCABS better stay away from my curbside!

    Comment by DelridgeV — 4:33 pm July 30, 2012 #

  52. According to local 117 since 2005, four local 117 recycle drivers have died on the job.

    Comment by CJ — 6:41 pm July 30, 2012 #

  53. This is just plain wrong. I would be willing to bet that half of the recycling drivers don’t even want to strike. $9 an hour is quite a leap in pay and I for one don’t think they shoud get it. There are thousands of people that want to replace these guys. $98,000 a year after six years, why don’t we just give all the workers a brand new house completely paid for just for doing the job they signed up to do. It’s not right.

    Comment by Scott — 10:22 pm July 30, 2012 #

  54. I’m one of the striking drivers and im worried about my customers and you as a customer of waste management. When I was a residental driver we were trained to observe children in neighborhoods and count how many there are going in and going out. I lost sight of the kids and because of training I knew I should look for them. I found them sitting on my rear bumper. They thought it would be fun. These replacement drivers dont have that training. People throw needles away in the recycling and we are trained on how to handle that also. Watching these drivers work its obvious they have not been trained at all. I can’t believe W.M. Has been refusing to return to the bargaining table. Even though they were told we would take down the lines if they did. I have mouths to feed and bills to pay. I just want to work. I’m accident free and injury free, I havent called in sick at all this year or last, I’m at work early every day, never late, I dont miss any of my customers on their service day, I pick up loose or scattered trash and I check the top of my truck for loose debris before heading to the dump, for the environment and your safety. I take pride in my safety record, my route and the envitonment. These so called replacement drivers are just temporary since this is a unfair labor dispute not an economic strike.

    Comment by Recycle driver — 1:03 pm August 1, 2012 #

  55. I would rather have a “scab” who is willing to work and appreciates the job than an unappreciative greedy union so called employee.

    Comment by Craig — 2:25 pm August 1, 2012 #

  56. Oh please with your statements “untrained drivers are jeopardizing the children’s safety”. That is a canned statement the union wants the drivers putting out there. We got it on the phone in a recorded message. No intelligent person believes their children are in danger. These are licensed CDL drivers picking up the trash. The union sounds desperate and petty with those adds.
    If I was a striking union member I’d be showing up for work tomorrow. Waste management just laid down quad aces and your hand isn’t going to beat it. They are spending good money on those adds for “permanent” replacement drivers. I think they mean it!

    Comment by Oscar Grouch — 2:53 pm August 1, 2012 #

  57. Oh please oscar grouch. You are stupid to think that just any cdl driver is qualified to drive those trucks. We get trained for weeks before driving solo. These guys havent even got a day of solid training. You should be worried.

    Comment by Recycle driver — 3:47 pm August 1, 2012 #

  58. The union did the smart thing and folded their hand. I’m betting the union ended up with something real similar to that last offer, which was not a bad offer. I’m glad my trash will get picked up again, and no-one had to lose their very decent paying job.

    Comment by Oscar Grouch — 7:53 pm August 1, 2012 #

  59. I think it is rude and uncalled for to call the substitute drivers names, and to look down on them. These people are just people that need jobs, and they obviously need the money that the current workers are spitting at. Just like the drivers, these replacements have families and bills to pay too.

    Comment by House Wife — 3:37 am August 2, 2012 #

  60. House Wife, I totally agree. The substitute drivers are willing to work and provide a public service – in the list of involved parties, they’re the last ones who deserve disrespect.

    Comment by Brandon McBride — 1:28 pm August 7, 2012 #

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