Waste Management Having Trouble with Milwaukee Teamsters

Date: September 10, 2008

Source: Waste Management of Wisconsin & Teamsters Union

The Teamsters Local 200 Argument:

Milwaukee Teamsters Call On Waste Management to Stop Threatening Workers

Solid Waste Giant Holds City Hostage with Unconscionable Actions

Today, Teamsters at Waste Management Inc. (WMI) represented by Local 200 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, called on the solid waste giant to stop its representatives from threatening and coercing union workers. The union would rather the company spend its energy on returning to the bargaining table with a realistic offer that protects the future of the hard-working men and women that provide a vital public service to the metropolitan area.

The two sides have been in negotiations for more than eight months and have been able to settle 90 percent of the bargaining issues. However, the union was forced to file an unfair labor practice charge against WMI on Friday, August 22 after discovering that company management had been going around their elected representatives and coercing and threatening workers.

"The company has no shame," said Tom Millonzi, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 200. "We have 212 men and women working at Waste Management that have shown nothing but loyalty to this company. We have never broken labor peace and always negotiated in good faith for more than 30 years but now the company is threatening them and coercing them? It is unconscionable."

The workers have been without a contract nearly four months after agreeing to continue to negotiate past the agreement's expiration on April 30. The Teamsters initially approached WMI to negotiate in early January, but the company refused to meet until February. WMI continues to stall and delay during each step of process.

The union has been left with little recourse and pending the results of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 26 with WMI, will consider all options to ensure that their members' rights are protected.

"The last thing our union wants to do is strike during the middle of one of the city's most celebrated events," Millonzi said. "Thousands of Harley Davidson riders have already begun arriving in Milwaukee and the impact they will have on the city is immeasurable. To adequately police the waste generated from these visitors, our members need to be doing their jobs and be on their trucks, but we won't allow the company to strong arm our members. The ball is in Waste Management's court."

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States and Canada.

Teamsters Local 200
CONTACT: Galen Munroe of International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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    Waste Management's Argument:

Employees Gain Benefits, Wages in Waste Management Plan

Waste Management of Wisconsin today proposed a new five-year contract with Teamsters Local 200 that would significantly boost employee wages and benefits while freeing the company from long-term liability for an ailing Teamster-led pension plan, company officials say.

Waste Management would plow all of the premiums it now pays to the failing Central States Pension Fund into new benefits and wages for employees represented by Teamsters Local 200, and allocate additional funds for their compensation under a last, best and final offer presented in bargaining talks today.

The company is urging the union to bring the proposal before its members as quickly as possible and waiting word on when that will happen, said Market Area General Manager Michael Fleming. "This is a package our employees and their families will welcome. We want them back on the job."

Waste Management is willing to accept an increase in its current expenses in exchange for releasing the company and its Teamsters 200 employees from the ailing Central States Pension Fund, Fleming said. Central States has threatened to cut employee benefits and is pressing Waste Management and other employers to up their fund contributions. Central States' deteriorating condition landed it on the Treasury Department's "critical status" list, reserved for funds in grave condition.

"We're not willing to pay more and more into a fund that's giving our employees less and less," said Fleming. "The longer we stay, the more we pay and the less our hard-working employees can count on for their retirement years."

Instead, Fleming said, Waste Management intends to redirect its Central States' contributions to help pay for a new defined contribution pension plan, wage increases, an enhanced health plan and other employee compensation. "We're not after savings, we're after value," he said. "We want to be sure our workers and their families actually receive the benefits we're buying for them."

Waste Management of Wisconsin's proposal calls for first-year wage increases of 10% to 15%, with 3% increases during subsequent years of the five-year pact. Workers would become immediately eligible for a defined contribution pension plan to which the company would initially contribute $1,000 for each eligible employee. Waste Management would contribute an additional 50% match for an employee's voluntary contributions of up to 6% of the employee's compensation.

While employees vested in Central States will remain eligible for whatever benefits the Fund does provide, Fleming noted that Fund representatives involved in the contract talks have threatened to cut benefits for Teamsters Local 200 members if the company withdraws from the Fund. "Central States' decision to strip these benefits from our employees is outrageous," Fleming said. "Our company strongly opposes these benefit reductions, questions their validity, and has repeatedly asked Central States to reverse its decision."

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