Date: March 27, 2006
Source: PR Newswire
Teamster garbage drivers serving Seattle and thirty other cities in King and Snohomish County voted overwhelmingly March 25 to authorize a strike if negotiations for a new contract are unsuccessful. The current contract expires March 31, 2006.
Negotiations covering the six hundred drivers at Allied Waste and Waste Management, the two firms responsible for most of the garbage pick up in the Puget Sound region, began February 10 and are continuing this week.
The drivers who now pay close to $300 per month for health benefits say winning affordable health care is one of their main goals for the new contract. Safer working conditions and limits on excessive mandatory overtime, are the two other principal bargaining goals for the union.
"This is one of the most difficult, dirty, dangerous jobs there is," according to Allied Waste Driver Kent Shaull. "We're just asking for fair wages, health care for our families at a reasonable cost, and safe working conditions including the ability to go home when we've put in a fair day's work."
Dan Scott, Local 174 Secretary Treasurer, said, "A strike would be a major inconvenience for millions of Waste Management and Allied Waste Customers throughout this area, and a severe hardship for our members and their families. I'm hoping we're going to see some major progress in our talks with the employers in the next two or three days. We don't want a strike, and we'll do everything possible to avoid one. But the drivers authorized a strike by a 96% margin, indicating how serious they are about their key issues, and we're ready to strike if we are forced to."
The union has scheduled a "Solidarity Celebration" March 31, 6-9 pm at the Teamster Building parking lot in Tukwila. The Solidarity celebration will be held regardless of the outcome of negotiations.