Garbage haulers are officially on strike

After weeks of working without a contract, garbage haulers are officially on strike against Waste Management. Teamsters Local 174 spokesperson Michael Gonzales tells our news partners, the Seattle Times, that the strike started at 10:30 Wednesday morning. Workers were told to return their trucks to their base and set up picket lines. According to the Times, about 400 union members who drive garbage trucks and work at county landfills and transfer stations are on strike. The 300 members of Local 117, who collect yard waste and recycling, are expected to honor the picket lines, the Times reports.

Seattle Public Utilities says that if your garbage was not collected Wednesday, put it out again next week on your normal collection day. If your collection day is Thursday, put your garbage out as normal. “Service delivery and the protection of public health and safety are the city’s top priority and we expect Waste Management to honor its collection contract, regardless of its dispute with the Teamsters,” Seattle Public Utilities Acting Director Ray Hoffman said. (Thanks crownhiller for posting this in the forum.)

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44 thoughts to “Garbage haulers are officially on strike”

  1. Whew! Well, it's a good thing that I got all the trash and recycling out this week – we had been hosting a family of houseguests for the last 2 weeks and all our bins were seriously overflowing. If they had gone out on strike last week, we would have had a real mess on our hands already.

    I hope the strike is settled quickly.

  2. I hope these idiots just get replaced. There are literally thousands of people who would gladly take their positions/pay. Give me a break.

  3. But the people who would replace them won't get their pay. They'll get less. And you'll get less service, and the underpaid replacements won't afford to spend that money on healthcare and wind up using the emergency rooms or welfare like Walmart employees.
    I'm not in a union, but I sure am glad we have them to keep the wage pressure in place.

  4. They'll get some untrained scabs to do the job, most likely very poorly because none of them will have experience (or likely be the pick of the job pool if you know what I mean).
    You'll still get charged as though a guy making a living wage was picking up your trash even if they are paying less to a guy doing a half assed job.

  5. At least the strike went into effect right after they picked up my trash.
    Hopefully they get this squared away quickly and the union guys get back on the job.

  6. The attrition rate for these jobs is really high – about 80% of new hires don't make it 2 years. It's hard work and and although it pay's reasonably well a lot of people don't last long. WMI is ALWAYS hiring replacement workers.

  7. From the news reports, the WM guys were already making a living wage and wanted a much better living wage, whereas WM was only willing to offer them a better living wage. I suspect we can find some people who are willing to accept a “mere” living wage to do the collections.

  8. So that explains why my recycling is still sitting out front. Great – every two weeks isn't enough as it is for recycling.

    Just not feeling all that sympathetic given the crap job market out there.

  9. I guess if you wanted to be all technical and stuff, it means that garbagemen aren't paid enough. If 80% of the workers don't think the money is worth it after two years or less, the money probably isn't worth it.

    (Not trying to make Steve's argument for him, just answering the question)

  10. We'll still be charged normally as the waste will still be picked up. A slight hiccup in service, but life will go on.

    This is from the Seattle Times
    “Due to the strike, some Seattle Public Utilities customers will not have their garbage and yard waste collected today in northwest and south Seattle. Those customers whose collections are missed today are asked to put all of their garbage and yard waste out next week on their regular collection day.

    The City’s recycling services are covered by a different contract, and should not be affected by the strike, the city says. All customers are asked to keep their recycling out.”

  11. I am not anti-union, but I think that I would be very hesitant to call a strike right now, or agree to participate. As others have said, it's a tough as hell market, and any job is better than no job.

  12. I hope the gal that lives above me chooses now to start recycling… She doesn't & it drives me crazy! We have 3 regular sized garbage cans, 4 large green recycling bins, and 2 yard waste bins, YET she puts EVERYTHING in the garbage, EVEN perfectly fine cardboard… shoot. I don't even know HOW she gets all that cardboard in there, BUT I'm the one who ends up pulling it out because I use common sense.

  13. As long as garbage makes it from my cans to the truck with nothing escaping on the street, I'm satisfied. Are you implying that the workers being paid less are going to fling trash about on the streets or drive the truck through my grass? I guess I've never had the trash not make it from the bin to the truck so I'm wondering what can go wrong if the union's demands aren't met.

  14. I support trash collectors getting paid a decent, middle income wage. While it may not be rocket science and require a college degree it IS a vital job for the safety of the public (unlike many jobs that do require a college degree and pay far more!) Bad – REALLY bad – things happen if garbage doesn't get picked up. I spent enough time in Third World countries to see this first hand. Beyond the filth and smells it can quickly become a source for all sorts of disease outbreaks, vermin problems, fire hazard, etc. Trash collectors are right up there with fire fighters and public works engineers on the list of people you absolutely need to have if you want to have a safe and functioning society. They work hard and perform a vital function so they deserve a decent paycheck.

    That said, now is probably not the smartest time to go on strike and I wonder how much public support they'll get. Also happy our pick-up was this morning.

  15. If you are in a union go shoot yourself. Your time has come and gone. You brought about the changes necessary decades ago now we have laws to protect true workers.

  16. This strike is avoidable, and seems an awful lot like what I remember from my history lessons. American culture has a fundamental reflex against carpet bagger robber barons moving into towns and short-changing the labor force.

    If you’re angry too, call Duane Woods (WM West Division VP) at (480) 419-6140. If you don’t get him, leave him a message telling him how we don’t want him lowering our local standard of living.

  17. 1. Your collection will get missed.
    2. Your car won't get missed and the truck will run it over.
    3. The scabs won't stick around on the job and more pickups will be missed.

  18. I think it's come down to WM not wanting to pay for the ever increasing costs of health insurance for a bunch of guys in a very physically demanding job. They're also looking at it as an opportunity to break the union. Neither position I'm willing to support, so I hope the union gets to keep their health care and that they're back on the job soon.

  19. I'd guess that's why WM is taking this opportunity to try to scare the union into accepting a scaled back health plan. They're also going to take this chance to break the union so they can rack up even heftier profits in the future.

  20. Let them eat cake!
    It's nice that a fat cat like yourself was able to take the time to have a lackey post your vital opinion. Now go back to counting your profits.

  21. You're right!

    This strive would be TOTALLY avoidable if the union members took their heads out of their a$$es and looked around at the remarkably high unemployment rate, thanked their lucky stars for a well-paying job, and GOT BACK TO WORK!

    Give me a break! It sounds like you're pretty angry yourself, any chance you're sleeping in tomorrow morning hoping some union boss negotiates a pay raise for you? Or are you not afforded the luxury of sleeping in because you get to go stand in a picket line instead?

    Thanks for passing on Duane's number, I'm going to call and encourage him to not agree to the union's demands in order to allow for a new workforce to come in who is willing to work hard and be thankful they have a job in economic times like these.

    If you want to make more money, do what it takes to get a promotion, move to a different industry/job, or start a business. It's that easy.

  22. It takes big beans to strike in an economy like this, proves the general greed of the unions. It's no longer about a fair wage, it's now about excessive wages.

    Unions had their place in America, but that time is passed.

    Go back to work.

  23. No, $50,000 is the average wage. The $109,000 is what WM offered by the end of the contract AND that includes benefits. Their salary would end up at about $75,000 years from now.

  24. I love how the companies throw out these numbers to the media and they get repeated without even blinking. That $109,000 includes everything from healthcare to taxes to HR costs to pension to gas for the executive jet to toilet paper. The real wage for someone who's stuck around long enough on this backbreaking crap job to get a raise is maybe $25/hr. Add to that the fact that garbage collection is not a job for anyone but the young and strong and it's not exactly a long term career.
    WM is making money hand over fist but they want more. I'm backing the union on this one.

  25. Joe, You should direct your spittle at WM and their greedy owners who are sitting on record profits while they try to squeeze the working man for more money to add to the billions they're already wallowing in.

  26. WM should get their heads out of their asses, but they're buried under so much cash that they can't. That's why they've stonewalled the union and forced them to strike to keep the pay and healthcare they've earned.

  27. That's more in line with what I was thinking…$25 an hour or so. I'd be down to do that for a couple of years, myself. But, as you said, it's not a long-term sort of job…and I wonder (without other resume experience) where the aging guys go, and what they can pull in.

  28. Greedy owners? Sitting on profits? This isn't a McScrooge cartoon….the owners are shareholders….basically anyone that owns a mutual fund or has a pension. Owner's of a company should benefit (or lose) from its financial positions. Employees are paid to provide a specific service for an agreed upon wage.

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