Work stoppage halts Republic Services garbage pickup in Kent | Update

Second day in a row Thursday as drivers honor picket lines in support of San Diego strike

Kent residents won’t receive any garbage, recycling or yard waste service for the second day in a row Thursday due to a temporary work stoppage by union members in honor of striking teamsters in San Diego.

“Due to a temporary work stoppage led by union members from out of state, we are unable to service customers as scheduled Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022,” according to a Republic Services statement on its website. “We will collect double your regular material at no charge on your next regular service collection day. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.”

Arizona-based Republic Services contracts with the city of Kent to handle garbage, yard waste and recycling services. The contract runs through 2029.

“Puget Sound recycle and yard waste drivers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 117 and work at Republic Services, are honoring picket lines that were established by striking Teamsters from San Diego,” according to a statement from Teamsters 117 in Tukwila. “The California sanitation workers from Local 542 raised pickets early this morning at the company’s facilities in Bellevue, Lynnwood, Kent and Seattle.”

Garbage drivers also honored the picket lines. In total, more than 300 teamsters refused to cross the picket lines at the four locations.

Republic Services emailed the following response to the Kent Reporter.

“Republic Services is experiencing a temporary work stoppage at our Seattle area locations,” according to the company’s media department. “This is related to a labor issue in California that has nothing to do with any Washington employees. We are taking the steps necessary to minimize service disruptions, and we thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we work to resolve this temporary issue.”

Republic Services said it contacted customers Wednesday morning about the work stoppage and customers will be allowed to put out double their regular material on their next regular service collection day. The company spokesperson declined to answer how long the stoppage might last.

The 250 members of Teamsters Local 542 in California have been on strike since Dec. 17, 2021 after the company refused to bargain in good faith and failed to address the workers’ demands for improved safety conditions in contract negotiations, according to Teamsters.

Teamsters said that in solidarity with the San Diego Teamsters, Local 117 yard waste and recycle drivers, who service communities across the Puget Sound region, exercised their contractual rights and honored Local 542’s picket lines at the four Republic Services locations.

“Our members are standing in solidarity with their Teamster Sisters and Brothers in San Diego who are fighting for a fair contract,” said John Scearcy, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Rather than provoking a strike, Republic Services should honor workers who have braved the pandemic to provide essential sanitation services that help keep our communities healthy and safe.”

The union said workers are on strike because of concerns about excessive overtime, pandemic safety and harassment by managers.

In 2020, Republic Services earned over $10 billion, with $1.2 billion in net profit, while its CEO’s total compensation totaled over $12 million, according to the Teamsters statement. Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Gates’ investment advisor sits on Republic’s board of directors.

In addition to Kent, Republic serves Bellevue, Hunts Point, Medina, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, North Bend, Auburn, Sammamish, Renton, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Lynnwood, Monroe, Edmonds and commercial recycle disposal in the City of Seattle.

Teamsters Local 117 represents 17,000 working people across Washington state, including 130 recycle and yard waste drivers who are employed by Republic Services.

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