Replacement workers collect some trash as drivers picket
Replacement workers from throughout the country began collecting trash from hospitals, day cares and nursing homes Friday as striking trash haulers continued picketing Waste Management.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Replacement workers from throughout the country began collecting trash from hospitals, day cares and nursing homes Friday as striking trash haulers continued picketing Waste Management facilities.
Robin Freedman, spokeswoman for Waste Management, said the drivers are picking up refuse from critical sites but there are no immediate plans to have the replacement workers, called the "Green Team," take over collections on residential routes.
"We want to go back to the table and seek solutions ... but it makes no sense to go to the table when our drivers are still not providing service in our communities," Freedman said.
The recycling drivers, members of Teamsters Local 117, walked off the job Wednesday and were joined by Local 174, the garbage-truck drivers.
"We are disappointed the company would rather pay out-of-state workers than use (the money) for their experienced local workforce," said Brenda Wiest, spokeswoman for the local.
She said pickets have been following replacement drivers throughout the community, and "we're causing them a bit of a problem at the transfer stations."
Attorneys for both sides have been meeting, Wiest said, and strikers offered to negotiate with Waste Management and stop picketing at noon Saturday. It wasn't clear if that would happen.
In the meantime, residential trash sits uncollected for areas of King and South Snohomish counties, where Waste Management serves 220,000 customers.
Seattle's contract with Waste Management allows it to fine the company $4,500 a day for service disruptions, with the maximum amount jumping to $250,000 per day after a week.
Waste Management has told customers to continue to put bins out on their normal collection days, then remove them at night. They should not be put out again until the next scheduled collection day. The company did not return calls seeking comment about its plan to resume collection if the strike lingers into next week.
Wiest said the strike is about respect and job safety as well as wages. Recycling workers are paid less than garbage haulers, mostly because of different unions and contracts. Wiest said the drivers do the same work and are exposed to the same hazards.
She said the union complained to the National Labor Relations Board about the company's refusal to bargain. She said the company walked away from bargaining June 11. The contract with the workers ended May 31.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @BartleyNews.