Garbage drivers ended their two-day strike Friday after company officials agreed to resume contract talks.
All collection services are to be provided as scheduled on Friday, said Susan Robinson, director of public sector services for Waste Management, in an e-mail Thursday to Kent city officials.
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.
“Commercial garbage and recyclables will be collected as soon as possible, with priority to accounts like hospitals and nursing homes, where public health and safety is a priority,” Robinson said. “Our drivers will work through the weekend to catch up with our customers services.”
Residential customers will have garbage, recycling and yard waste collected as scheduled.
The garbage drivers struck Waste Management Wednesday morning, set up pickets and did not work on Thursday. Waste Management did not collect garbage or recyclables on Thursday.
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 public comes first,” said Ewart Grove Jr., a 25-year Waste Management employee. “We won’t stand by and let Waste Management break federal labor laws, but we also won’t let this company hold our community hostage to its illegal actions.”
Talks broke off April 6 between the union and company officials. The drivers have been working without a contract since April 1.
“We are trying to persuade Waste Management to stop bargaining in bad faith,” said Rick Hicks, secretary-treasurer of Local 174.
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.
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 a href=”http://www.seattletrashwatch.com”>www.seattletrashwatch.com or the a href=”http://www.wmnorthwest.com”>Waste Management site.