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Originally published July 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Page modified July 31, 2012 at 1:51 PM

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Trash strike starts to smell bad to Waste Management customers

After five days of no trash collection for Waste Management customers, bins and Dumpsters are starting to fill with smelly garbage.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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After watching the trash outside her apartment building grow from a mound to a mountain in six days, Shelly Smith called the city Monday for some relief.

"We likely won't be able to keep our windows open much longer," said Smith, 32, a Web designer whose apartment in the Chinatown International District overlooks an alley strewn with foul-smelling garbage spilling out of overstuffed Dumpsters.

"We've also gotten a fly problem," Smith wrote in an email. "The garbage is making the seagulls and crows go nuts — they love it, of course — and I'm also seeing rats and other vermin attracted to the piles. Given a few more busy days, I think we'll see the alleyways become impassable, if they aren't already."

It's unclear, though, when widespread relief will be on the way.

As of late Monday, no new talks were scheduled between Waste Management and Teamsters Local 117, which represents 153 recycle drivers on strike since Wednesday.

Teamsters Local 174, which represents garbage-truck drivers, joined the strike in solidarity, bringing trash and recycling collection to a halt for about 220,000 customers in King and South Snohomish counties.

Local 117 floated an informal proposal to a federal mediator late Sunday. Calls to union negotiators and the company were not returned Monday.

Striking drivers picketed the company's Seattle headquarters and about a half-dozen transfer and dump sites Monday to slow down deliveries by replacement drivers working for Waste Management, according to striking driver Jay Bleakley, 54, of Maple Valley.

"The more stuff that comes in, the more money they make," Bleakley said. "If we hold things up, it slows down the money flowing to Waste Management."

Meanwhile, some businesses with large volumes of trash were either making due or making arrangements to drive it to the dump.

Samir Baillie, 34, co-owner of Red Cup Espresso in West Seattle, said he was planning to rent a truck to clear out the four full recycling bins, 14 plastic garbage bags and a stack of cardboard sitting behind his cafe on California Avenue Southwest.

"We tried to arrange it so it doesn't look like so much," he said. "But we're in for a few warm days. There's a lot of milk and cream [containers], and it's going to start smelling."

Andy Pattalochi, 33, manager of the Wing Dome restaurant about a block south, said the company has been hauling its trash to the dump in a pickup.

"It's costly because we're using our maintenance guys, and they're going to be off a day of work," he said.

Manya Myers, 50, an employee of Merryweather Books (formerly Leisure Books), said she received a computer-generated phone call at the shop Monday morning.

"It was a chirpy, cheerful voice," Myers recalled. "She said they were talking to people about the trash and recycling. She said we have nothing to worry about, and that it should be picked up this week, maybe, but it should be picked up by next week."

Seattle Public Utilities has raised the specter of hefty fines if the company doesn't honor its contract and begin collecting refuse by Wednesday. SPU said it would begin documenting missed collections starting Thursday morning and asked residents to leave their bins out on the curb so they could be counted.

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508

or skelleher@seattletimes.com

On Twitter @susankelleher

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