SEATTLE - The strike by Teamsters against Waste Management spread further north Tuesday as the work stoppage reached its seventh day.
Drivers in Burlington say they will honor the picket lines by drivers in the Seattle area. Teamsters Local 117 says about 35 garbage, yard waste and recycle haulers represented by Local 231 are refusing to cross the picket line.
"We are acting in solidarity with our Teamster brothers and sisters at Local 117 to send a clear message to Waste Management to return to the bargaining table immediately," said Leonard Kelley, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 231.
Waste Management is in the process of screening new drivers to replace the striking workers. Those new drivers could start by the end of the week.
Until then, Waste Management continues to bus in substitute drivers from around the country. Those subs arrived at the South Seattle Waste Management facility, met with a loud, angry response by picketers yelling “You dirty scabs,” and “You should be ashamed.”
As trucks driven by the substitute drivers left the yard, picketers chased them down the street.
“Waste Management is putting us on the brink of what I would call a public health crisis if you keep having garbage pile up like that,” said Teamsters Local 117 spokesperson Brenda Wiest. “They need to figure it out or come back to the table so our guys can get the job done because we know our guys can.”
Commercial districts are getting priority for trash collection Tuesday. Residential customers in Renton will also see trucks in their area because the city has a bi-weekly pick-up schedule.
“We made great headway yesterday servicing commercial routes,” said Waste Management spokesperson Robin Freedman. “We’ll be back out there today servicing commercial routes and we’re doing the best we can under some difficult circumstances.”
Waste Management has told residential customers not to put their cans out until further notice, but Seattle Public Utilities is saying the opposite. SPU wants customers to put those cans out Wednesday and leave them out until 6 a.m. Thursday so that the city can come count them.
Cities could impose fines if the trash is not collected.
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A Teamsters spokesperson on Monday disputed a statement from Waste Management that the union had made a proposal through a federal mediator to end the strike. No talks face-to-face talks to end the strike have been scheduled.
The strike began with a walkout by about 150 recycling and yard waste truck drivers represented by Local 117. Garbage truck drivers represented by Teamsters 174 won't cross the picket lines.
Waste Management's contract with Local 117 expired at the end of May. The union wants to close a gap of about $9 an hour between the pay of its recycling truck drivers and the garbage truck drivers of Local 174.
Waste Management is offering a six-year deal it says would raise average salaries from $58,000 to $68,000 a year. If benefits are included, the offer is worth $98,000 a year to a driver at the end of the sixth year, the company said.
What customers need to know
On Monday afternoon, Seattle Public Utilities said customers in the city who are scheduled for a Tuesday collection by Waste Management should not put their cans and bins out this evening. Instead, "Tuesday customers should put out their recycling, garbage and food and yard waste carts next Tuesday, Aug. 7. ... Customers who were missed for collection today (Monday, July 30), should put their garbage, yard waste and recycling out before 7 a.m. next Monday, Aug. 6."
Get the complete garbage and recycling pick-up schedule on the Waste Management website or call the customer service center at 1-800-592-9995.
About 220,000 customers are affected by the strike.
The striking recycle drivers are with Teamsters Local 117, fighting for better salary and benefits in a contract negotiation that has dragged on for months.
They would like Waste Management to raise their salaries to meet the pay of garbage drivers. With overtime, recycle drivers make about $58,000 a year. If requests are met, they could make as much as $98,000 a year with overtime.
Allied Waste customers and the King County Transfer Stations are not affected by the strike.
Negotiation updates are also posted on the Teamsters Local 117 website, www.seattletrashwatch.org.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee has said they will continue providing service to only "critical" facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes and restaurants, without interruption.
KING 5's Glenn Farley and Natasha Ryan contributed to this report.