Monday, April 22, 2013

Republic, Teamsters continue talks as Youngstown, McDonough strikes suspended

Local 377 extended picket lines all over the country.
Teamsters are sitting down at the bargaining table with Republic Services/Allied Waste as 23 Youngstown workers return to the job after four weeks on strike at the Carbon Limestone Landfill. Forty more drivers, helpers and mechanics at Republic/Allied in McDonough, Ga., also suspended their strike.

The strikers had extended their picket lines across the U.S. over the past weeks. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, thousands of Teamsters honored picket lines in 25 cities across the Midwest and from Georgia to Washington and California.

While members of Local 377 in Youngstown and Local 728 in McDonough, Ga., are back to work, Republic/Allied workers in Memphis are still on strike.

Trash tycoon Bill Gates, who owns about 26 percent of Republic, continues to appear disinterested in his company's labor and environmental misdeeds. He was busy telling South Korean President Park Geun-Hye what to do. (Let's hope she doesn't listen.)

According to today's Teamster press release, John Overly, a worker at the Youngstown landfill, explained:
We never wanted to go on strike, but Republic’s behavior has been so abusive we had no choice. As we extended picket lines to other cities, the workers there told us of very similar patterns of intimidation and harassment at their facilities. 
We care about the communities we live and work in. We don’t like seeing the trash piling up and our neighbors being upset at the filth. That’s why we’re going back to work – for now – because we really want to clean up our neighborhoods. We are hoping Republic will be willing to make right all the wrongs they have done to us and to workers and communities all over the country.
Republic Services had established a pattern of behavior that went beyond Youngstown, said Robert Morales, director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division.
These strikes have been about this company breaking the law. Republic’s tactics of intimidation and law-breaking are not limited to Youngstown, Ohio – they are occurring in many other cities and that pattern of behavior goes back years. If the company won’t fix its illegal actions and continues to refuse to treat its workers with respect, then I can promise you the Teamsters will respond, and we will respond hard.
Ken Hall, Teamsters general secretary-treasurer, said there are many issues that need to be addressed:
I’ve urged the company to come back to the table over the next two to three weeks and resolve all outstanding issues, including the pension. If the company wants to back up its words that its true objective is looking out for the best interests of its employees, rather than slashing benefits, then the company must negotiate in good faith with Teamsters Local Unions. 
Out of respect for their communities and the customers they serve, our members chose to suspend the strike – I hope their act of good faith is matched by Republic’s good faith at the bargaining table.