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Garbage haulers go on strike; Waste Management says no garbage pickup Thursday
A strike Wednesday by Waste Management garbage haulers has halted collection today (Thursday) of garbage, recyclables and food and yard waste today in Renton.
The drivers went on strike at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Allied Waste also serves a portion of Renton, but that hauler earlier reached an contract agreement with Teamsters Local 174.
Waste Management is bringing in replacement drivers from throughout the nation to collect garbage in King and Snohomish counties.
Here is Waste Management's plans for today:
• No residential garbage, recyclables or food and yard waste will be picked up in Renton today.
• If garbage collection was scheduled for today, it will be picked up this Friday or Saturday.
• Food and yard waste will be picked up as scheduled next Thursday, April 29.
• Recyclables will be picked up on the next scheduled recycling collection day, Thursday, May 6.
• Waste Management will not collect garbage or recyclables today.
According to the Waste Management Web site, collection was not provided for some King and Snohomish county customers Wednesday due to the strike. If the garbage, yard waste or recycling container was not emptied, the company advisers that customers keep the uncollected material until the next regular collection day for each container, when the extra material will be collected at no extra charge.
Updates are available on the Waste Management Web site.
To accommodate pickets, the King County Solid Waste Divisions has established designated areas at transfer stations along with “neutral gates” so that their employees can enter and exit and continue their work. Public Health – Seattle & King County has conditionally approved extended hours for garbage disposal at the regional Cedar Hills Landfill if needed, according to a King County press release
Waste Management provides collection services for residents and businesses in all or part of Algona, Auburn, Bothell, Burien, Carnation, Duvall, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Maple Valley, Newcastle, Pacific, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Seattle and Woodinville.
Contract talks between Teamsters Local 174 and Waste Management officials broke off April 6 and no further talks had been scheduled. The drivers have been working without a contract since March 31.
"In spite of our best efforts Waste Management is refusing to come back to the table to bargain in good faith,” said Local 174 secretary-treasurer, Rick Hicks on the union Web site. “We are taking a measured action to persuade Waste Management to correct its illegal acts and to minimize the impact on the public.”
The more than 350 garbage haulers serve about one million customers throughout King and Snohomish counties.
Union members voted March 28 to authorize a strike against the company if talks halted and no contract agreement could be reached.
Waste Management officials said the offer they made to the union on April 1 remains their final offer.
Local 174 spokesman Michael Gonzales said in an interview last week with the Kent Reporter that there are about 12 significant modifications to the contract by the company that the union wants to address. He also said company officials had refused to come to the table to bargain in good faith.
"If they do that, we can get something done," Gonzales said.
The contract offer from Waste Management includes a wage increase of $1 per hour in the first year and increases of 40 cents to 50 cents per hour in each year of the five-year contract, Susan Robinson, director of public sector services for Waste Management, said.
The average hourly wage for a driver is $26.29 per hour or more than $70,000 per year with an average of six overtime hours per week.
The company also proposes to increase pension contributions from $14,060 per year in 2010 to $15,101 per year by the end of the contract.
Drivers would have to pay increases of $20 per month in health and welfare contributions with a proposed increase to $50 per month from $30 per month.
Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is a large, multi-state company that serve millions of customers nationwide.
Steve Hunter, a reporter for the Kent Reporter, contributed to this story.