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Originally published September 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Page modified September 25, 2012 at 6:16 PM

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Waste Management to pay $1.24M in settlement over garbage strike

Some Seattle residents and businesses will see a refund on their garbage bills, their share of a $1.24 million settlement the city reached over the recent strike against Waste Management.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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WM will just write this off as "the cost of doing business". I don't live in ... MORE
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The longest garbage strike in Seattle history has resulted in rebates to customers whose trash wasn't collected, sometimes for as long as 12 days.

Mayor Mike McGinn Tuesday announced a $1.24 million settlement with Waste Management for missed collections including recycling and yard waste during an eight-day strike last month by Teamster union drivers.

Residential accounts will be credited $10 on solid-waste bills for November-December. Condominiums, businesses and apartments will receive a $50 credit per Dumpster, the mayor said.

Only residents and businesses served by Waste Management will receive refunds. Drivers for the city's other hauler, CleanScapes, did not strike and its service wasn't disrupted.

"This was the longest garbage strike in the city's history, and thousands of residents and businesses were inconvenienced," McGinn said in a statement. "The good news is that our contract with Waste Management provided for substantial payment penalties for a strike lasting more than seven days — and we were able to use that provision to help bring an end to the strike."

Waste Management spokeswoman Robin Freedman said the company regretted the loss of service and the frustration it caused many customers.

She called the rebate a "customer-appreciation credit" and said it's a "tangible way to acknowledge the inconvenience experienced by our customers."

Recycling and yard-waste drivers from Teamsters Local 117 went on strike in late July with the support of Local 174, Waste Management garbage haulers.

McGinn announced on the seventh day of the strike that the city would begin to assess fines of up to $1 million per day.

The trash giant announced a tentative agreement on a new six-year contract with the recycling drivers the following day.

Teamster representatives credited McGinn and other mayors in the region with getting the company back to the bargaining table.

Once the strike ended, city inspectors fanned out across Seattle to document piled-up garbage and recycling. The company could have been fined $250 per block for each day waste wasn't collected, but agreed to the customer credit instead.

Service was delayed between five and 12 days, depending on the location and type of service, according to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which handles the city's solid waste.

Although steep fines for failure to collect garbage have long been a feature of contracts with city waste haulers, the August strike marked the first time they'd been assessed, said Tim Croll, SPU solid-waste manager.

"The company was asking the city to be forgiving. The mayor held strong," Croll said.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.

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