Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teamster victory! Waste workers ratify contract, win long battle

Eighty of our brothers and sisters in Evansville, Ind., scored a major Teamster victory Monday when they ratified a contract with Republic Waste/Allied Services that raises their wages and preserves their retirement security.

The contract, which runs until April 1, 2016, raises wages by $1 per hour the first year and by 50 cents per hour in the second and third years.

The contract also protects the workers’ solid retirement security. Said Chuck Whobrey, president of Local 215 in Evansville:
The members will remain in a Teamsters pension fund, so when they retire they will still have a defined benefit pension plan.
It's an especially sweet Teamster victory as the Evansville waste workers were locked out of their jobs on May 8, 2011. Short, sudden sympathy strikes sprang up across the country at Republic waste/Allied Services facilities. In a remarkable show of solidarity, thousands of Teamsters refused to cross picket lines. The Evansville workers were back on the job six weeks after they were locked out.

Whobrey credited his brothers and sisters for the Teamster victory:
While it was a long battle, we would not have been successful without the strong support of our members and the strong support of the International Union and multiple local unions that got involved in this fight.
Bob Morales, director of the Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries division, said solidarity was essential to the Teamster victory:
Our members nationwide stood united with the workers in Evansville. Our members also supported the other strikes that occurred across the country. The strong solidarity is helping us today, and this Evansville contract is an example of that.
Importantly, the contract maintains workers’ rights to honor primary picket lines. Whobrey said the company wanted a 10-day notice, which was totally unacceptable. Not one sentence was changed to protect their existing right to honor picket lines.

The contract also gives workers the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday off. All the other city workers in Evansville have that day off as well, said Whobrey. But, he said:
It is also significant because of Dr. King’s strong support of working people and waste workers.
King was assassinated while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968. Teamsters who picketed Republic Services/Allied Waste carried signs with the same message on the signs carried by Memphis sanitation workers that year: "I Am A Man."

Finally, the contract also improves the discipline and discharge procedures and bereavement leave, and increases the workers’ boot allowance.