Negotiators met for 15 hours on Monday and continued bargaining talks on Tuesday before reaching agreement on a new contract. A federal mediator assisted with the talks.
“The contract offers a solid compensation package to our hardworking and professional drivers, and recognizes the valuable service that our drivers provide in our local communities,” aid Susan Robinson, director of public sector services for Waste Management, in an e-mail Wednesday to Kent city officials. “The union leadership will fully recommend that their members approve the new contract at a ratification vote scheduled for Sunday (May 2).”
Garbage drivers ended a two-day strike April 23 after company officials agreed to resume contract talks.
“Teamster drivers work hard and deserve fair compensation for the important work that they perform,” said Rick Hicks, secretary treasurer for Local 174, on the union Web site. “We are pleased to have negotiated a contract that recognizes the professionalism of our members.”
Waste Management serves about 1,300 commercial customers and 135 multi-family (condos, apartments) customers in Kent. The company serves nearly one million customers in King and Snohomish counties.
Single-family homes in Kent are served by Allied Waste, whose drivers agreed to a new four-year contract earlier this month. Allied Waste serves the city’s nearly 16,200 single-family homes.
The Waste Management drivers have been working without a contract since April 1.
Details of the new contract had not yet been released by Wednesday, the Kent Reporter’s publishing deadline.
The initial contract offer from Waste Management included 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. 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 multi-state company that serves millions of customers nationwide.
“We are glad to put this behind us and to focus on our daily operations,” Robinson said. “Collection service will be on schedule the rest of the week.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine congratulated Waste Management and union leaders for reaching a contract agreement.
“This tentative agreement shows that remaining at the bargaining table and maintaining open channels of communication is the right path to follow,” Constantine said in a county media release. “A fair contract ensures that Waste Management customers throughout King County will continue to receive the service they expect, while both the company and its employees can enjoy a productive working relationship in the years to come.”