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No Kent garbage, recycling pickup Wednesday as drivers honor Ohio strike
Kent residents won't get garbage, recycling or yard waste service Wednesday because Republic/Allied Waste Services drivers honored picket lines established by striking Republic workers in Youngstown, Ohio.
"Republic Services will not collect recycling, garbage or yard waste today (Wednesday) in Kent, but will collect up to double the amount on the next regularly-scheduled collection day," according to a city of Kent email. "City staff are working with Republic Services to minimize disruption to Kent customers."
Republic contracts with the city of Kent to provide garbage, recycling and yard waste services.
Republic Services, Inc., released the following statement:
"Due to an unresolved labor issue in another part of the country, some of our local union employees exercised their right not to cross an extended picket line," according to Republic Services. "It is unfortunate that the Teamsters have chosen to disrupt service to Puget Sound customers to support an unresolved Teamster issue in another part of the country.
"We remain committed to providing exceptional services to our cities and customers. Their needs are our highest priority and we are doing all that we can to minimize any service disruptions during this time. We have operational contingency plans in place in an effort to minimize any service disruptions to customers."
Picket lines were set up at the company’s facilities in Seattle, Lynnwood, and Kent/SeaTac.
It remains to be determined how long local drivers will honor the picket lines in Ohio.
"I don’t know," said Paul Zilly, spokesman for Teamsters Local 117 based in Tukwila, in an email. "It depends on how long the Ohio workers maintain the picket."
Known as Republic Services nationally, the union claims the company provoked an unfair labor practice strike with Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown when it violated federal labor law during contract negotiations. Workers in Youngstown have been on strike since March 27. Picket lines were extended to Republic locations in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and California before reaching Western Washington early Wednesday morning.
"We are standing in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in Ohio," said Mark Williams, a commercial recycle driver at Republic’s facility in Kent/SeaTac, in the union's media release. "We will not allow Republic to trample on the rights of workers in Ohio or anywhere else in the country."
According to the union, in 2012 Republic’s revenues were more than $8.1 billion and the company declared profits of $572 million. The company’s primary shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. Gates owns approximately $2.4 billion worth of stock, or 25 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates’ investment manager, sits on Republic’s board of directors.
“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,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
Teamsters Local Unions 38, 117, 174, and 763 represent more than 200 Republic/Allied Waste employees throughout the Puget Sound region. For more information, go to www.teamster.org or www.PickUpTheGarbage.com.
For more information about garbage pickup, call Republic Services at 206-682-9735 or go to www.republicservices.com/site/kent-wa/en/Pages/customer-services.aspx.