Garbage workers in King, Snohomish counties on strike


by and Associated Press

Posted on April 21, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 22 at 6:44 AM

SEATTLE - Seattle-area garbage workers represented by Teamsters Union Local 174 have gone on strike against Waste Management.

Union spokesman Michael Gonzales said pickets went up at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Waste Management facilities.

He said the union decided to call the strike because the company refused to bargain.

The union authorized the strike in March, over pay and health benefits.

It appears not all strikers are enthusiastic.

"I just want it to be over; I didn't want this to happen," said one.

"Waste Management knows how to bargain a contract, all they need to do is call us up and come to the table. We have been willing to bargain with them," said Michael Gonzales, Teamsters 174

The strike was threatened when the contract expired at the end of March. The company made its "best, last, final" offer April 1, but workers stayed on the job expecting negotiations to continue.

The strike affects trash pickup for about 1 million people in King and Snohomish counties.

Waste Management has said it will continue service with nonunion employees. It has prepared to hire new drivers and said it received 1,600 online applications.

Gonzales says recycling drivers represented by Teamsters Local 117 are honoring the strike. Together, he says, about 700 workers are on strike.

Seattle Public Utilities says as a result of the strike, customers in northwest and south Seattle will not have garbage pick-up today.

Those customers whose collections are missed 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. All customers are asked to keep their recycling out.

Approximately 18,000 residential customers could be affected by the strike action in the following approximate areas:

- N. 105th St to N. 85th St, W. of SR-99
- Delridge Way SW to Beacon Ave. S, from S. Royal Brougham to SW Roxbury St.