Teamsters vote to end Seattle-area waste strike

AP News
Posted: Aug 02, 2012 3:01 PM
Teamsters vote to end Seattle-area waste strike

SEATTLE (AP) — Teamsters who drive yard waste and recycling trucks in the Seattle-Everett area of Washington voted Thursday to accept a new contract, ending a strike against Waste Management that disrupted garbage pickups for more than 200,000 homes and businesses.

Both sides said they were pleased with the agreement but disclosed no details.

The company told customers to put out waste bins on regular collection days, and trucks would pick up yard waste, recycling and garbage that have been drawing flies since July 25.

Waste Management had provided limited service with out-of-state drivers and was planning to hire permanent replacements before the agreement was reached.

The company has a contact worth $36 million a year to pick up waste in 60 percent of Seattle. The city can fine the company $1.25 million a day for missed pickups after a week.

Inspectors were checking bins to determine fines, Seattle Public Utilities spokesman Andy Ryan said. It will take a few days to tally and a few more to determine how that money will be distributed back to customers, he said.

Local 117 said its 150 recycling-yard waste drivers were going back to work immediately after approving the 6-year contract at a union hall in Tukwila.

Hundreds of other garbage truck drivers represented by two other locals returned to work after picket lines came down Wednesday night on news that an agreement had been recommended by leaders of Local 117.

"We want to thank our Teamster brothers and sisters, especially members of Teamsters Local 174 and Teamsters Local 231, for their unwavering solidarity during the strike," said Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.

The company said it will take time to catch up with collections.

"We appreciate the community's patience during this time," Waste Management spokeswoman Robin Freedman said.

Trash bins were overflowing at some locations, causing the most problems at restaurants. There was no indication yet of a health hazard, Ryan said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department warned residents to keep garbage secure to avoid attracting raccoons and bears in some areas.

"We haven't had a tremendous report of raccoons, but I suspect they're doing very well," Ryan said.