Waste Management: No garbage pickup Thursday for Kent businesses, apartments

Waste Management will not pick up any garbage or recyclables Thursday at Kent commercial and multi-family customers because of the strike Wednesday by Teamsters Local 174 garbage haulers.

Waste Management will not pick up any garbage or recyclables Thursday at Kent commercial and multi-family customers because of the strike Wednesday by Teamsters Local 174 garbage haulers.

But a Waste Management official said some service will resume on Friday by replacement garbage drivers.

“Professional drivers from Waste Management’s Green Team are on the way and we anticipate the first wave of drivers hitting the streets by Friday,” said Susan Robinson, director of public sector services for Waste Management, in an e-mail late Wednesday night to Kent city officials. “Should the strike continue, we will continue to bring in additional Green Team drivers with our goal of returning to full service as soon as possible.”

Waste Management serves about 1,300 commercial customers and 135 multi-family (condos, apartments) customers in Kent.

Single-family homes in Kent will continue to get service because they are served by Allied Waste, whose drivers agreed to a new contract and are not on strike. Allied Waste serves the city's nearly 16,200 single-family homes.

Robinson said certain high-volume commercial customers will receive service first.

“As initial Green Team drivers arrive, we will begin collecting garbage and recyclables from a limited number of critical commercial customers including hospitals, nursing homes, day care facilities, grocery stores and restaurants over the next couple of days,” Robinson said.

The nearly 450 garbage haulers serve about one million customers throughout King and Snohomish counties.

Contract talks between Teamsters Local 174 and Waste Management officials broke off April 6 and no further talks had been scheduled. The drivers have been working without a contract since April 1.

“In spite of our best efforts Waste Management is refusing to come back to the table to bargain in good faith,” said Local 174 secretary-treasurer, Rick Hicks on the union Web site. “We are taking a measured action to persuade Waste Management to correct its illegal acts and to minimize the impact on the public.”

Local 174 spokesman Michael Gonzales said in an interview last week that there are about 12 significant modifications to the contract by the company that the union wants to address. He also said company officials had refused to come to the table to bargain in good faith.

Robinson said Waste Management officials have tried all week to get a meeting April 23 but did not get a response from the union.

The contract offer from Waste Management includes a wage increase of $1 per hour in the first year and increases of 40 cents to 50 cents per hour in each year of the five-year contract, Robinson said. The average hourly wage for a driver is $26.29 per hour or more than $70,000 per year with an average of six overtime hours per week.

The company also proposes to increase pension contributions from $14,060 per year in 2010 to $15,101 per year by the end of the contract.

Drivers would have to pay increases of $20 per month in health and welfare contributions with a proposed increase to $50 per month from $30 per month.

Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is a large, multi-state company that serve millions of customers nationwide.

For more information, go to the union Web site at www.seattletrashwatch.com or the Waste Management site at www.wmnorthwest.com.


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