Officials urge Waste Management, union to resolve garbage strike
April 21, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
UPDATED — 5:10 p.m. April 21, 2010
King County leaders urged a quick settlement to the strike against Waste Management by garbage haulers represented by Teamsters Local 174.
County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn sent a joint letter to Waste Management and the union Wednesday.
Waste Management trash haulers represented by the Local 174 went on strike Wednesday morning. The company picks up garbage in most of Issaquah, except for the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods. Altogether, Waste Management serves more than 1 million customers across King and Snohomish counties.
“I strongly encourage both sides to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible to work toward a quick and fair resolution to this strike,” Constantine said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are taking steps to minimize impacts for residents and making changes at our waste-transfer facilities so our workers will not have to cross a picket line to do their jobs.”
King County and other governments operate the transfer stations where private companies, such as Waste Management, haul garbage and recyclables.
County and Seattle officials also established designated areas at transfer stations along with “neutral gates” for public employees to enter and exit. Public Health – Seattle & King County also approved extended hours for garbage disposal — if needed — at Cedar Hills Regional Landfill south of Issaquah.
Waste Management executives said the company has plans in place to continue uninterrupted garbage service during a strike. The company plans to hire nonunion workers to continue service.
King County Solid Waste Division officials closed recycling services at the Renton Transfer Station on Thursday, and directed residents to other recycling centers, including AtWork! in Issaquah.
The contract for Waste Management haulers expired March 31. Teamsters Local 174 negotiators rejected what Waste Management described as the “best, last, final offer” in early April.
Waste Management directed questions about trash pickup to the company website.
The city of Issaquah is not a party in the labor discussions. Municipal officials worked with Waste Management to ensure strike contingency plans could be implemented.
Autumn Monahan, the city spokeswoman, encouraged residents to track the situation on a section of the city website devoted to the strike.
Meanwhile, union officials prepared a plan for customers to report service disruptions and problems in the event of a strike. The union encouraged customers to report service interruptions through a strike website or at 800-976-0071.
But the toll-free number connects callers to officials in their areas, instead of to Waste Management or the union. The hotline directs callers who input the 98027 ZIP code, for instance, to Mayor Ava Frisinger’s line at City Hall.
“In spite of our best efforts Waste Management is refusing to come back to the table to bargain in good faith,” Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks said in a statement. “We are taking a measured action to persuade Waste Management to correct its illegal acts and to minimize the impact on the public.”
Allied Waste, the hauler responsible for Greenwood Point and South Cove, reached a labor deal with workers April 11. Allied Waste also serves Klahanie and Mirrormont in unincorporated King County.