Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Republic strike spreads to Bill Gates' home state

Early morning solidarity in Washington.
Striking Teamsters at Republic/Allied Waste's landfill in Youngstown extended their picket lines to three more cities this morning in the home state of company owner Bill Gates. Local 377 traveled from Ohio to set up lines in Seattle, Lynnwood and Kent/SeaTac. They are holding strong.

Picket lines have been extended to Republic locations in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and California before reaching Western Washington early this morning. Lockouts and strikes forced by Republic have disrupted trash collection for hundreds of thousands of Americans over the past year and put communities at risk.

Strikes against Republic's unfair labor practices are continuing today in McDonough, Ga., and Memphis.

Gates' foundation is busy micromanaging the school budget of Lake County, Fla. Gates, however, is nowhere to be seen in the dispute between Teamsters and the company of which he is the biggest shareholder.

Teamster locals 38, 117, 174, and 763 represent over 200 Republic/Allied Waste employees throughout the Puget Sound region. In a remarkable (but typical) show of Teamster solidarity, they are honoring Local 377's picket lines.

Tracey Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, Wash., said:
Bill Gates says he promotes global health, but he refuses to step in and stop Republic from violating workers’ rights and causing a public health crisis in cities across the country. 
According to today's press release,
Republic is taking up to $140 per month out of workers’ paychecks for health insurance “tobacco” or “spouse” surcharges, even if they don’t smoke or their spouses have no other insurance option. When notified of the errors that can total up to $1,700 per person per year, Republic refuses to return the money to them. Other workers have seen their paychecks shrink now that Republic’s lawyers are exploiting loopholes in the law to pay overtime at rates as low as $6 or $7 per hour.
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa in 2012 sent Gates two letters requesting a meeting to discuss Republic’s repeated violations of workers’ rights and the company’s disregard for federal labor law. Gates did not respond to either request.