Garbage haulers in King, Snohomish counties could strike next week
Garbage, recycling and yard-waste haulers for more than 1 million homes in King and Snohomish counties are threatening to strike next week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Garbage, recycling and yard-waste haulers for more than 1 million homes and businesses in King and Snohomish counties are threatening to strike next week.
About 500 workers for Waste Management and Allied Waste — members of Teamsters Local 174 — will vote Sunday whether to strike if they can't settle a contract dispute before the deal expires March 31.
If Local 174 strikes, so would about 300 members of Teamsters Local 117, which won't cross the picket line.
Generally speaking, Local 174 drivers pick up garbage and Local 117 drivers haul yard waste and recycling.
The strike would affect about half the homes in Seattle — those that are served by Waste Management. The company also serves unincorporated King and Snohomish counties, and the cities of Auburn, Bothell, Burien, Federal Way, Kent, Newcastle, Maple Valley, Renton, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Carnation, Duvall, Mill Creek, Monroe, Arlington, Marysville, Granite Falls and Darrington.
Allied Waste serves about 100,000 homes and 8,000 commercial customers in King County, including some commercial customers in Seattle. Both companies said they have plans to continue service if there is a strike.
"We have a large group of very experienced men and women whom we call on during emergencies during natural disasters or labor disruptions," Waste Management spokeswoman Jackie Lang said. "They're highly trained and capable of providing quality service to our customers."
Lang and Local 174 spokesman Michael Gonzales disagreed about which key issues are in the dispute.
Gonzales said the Teamsters and Waste Management are at odds over safety policies and "payroll issues." The union has offered a wage proposal, but Gonzales wouldn't say what it contains.
He said workers have complained that they are not always paid for the hours they put in and that safety issues reported by drivers are not corrected quickly enough.
Waste Management said union workers are asking for a 25 percent pay raise over the term of the contract. "There are no safety issues on the table," Lang said.
Gonzales said the Teamsters are negotiating with Allied about their pension plan. The workers want assurance that their wages won't be cut to make up for shortages in the pension fund.
Allied said in a statement that the disagreement has to do with the pension.
"We are taking steps to ensure that the union's pension trust funds never become insolvent, so employees are able to retire with full pensions," the statement said.
The Teamsters have scheduled a meeting for Sunday to vote on contracts, if there is an agreement, or on a strike authorization.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or email@example.com
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