THE BAJA POST
More than 450 sanitation workers at Republic Services’ waste hauling yards in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, California – members of Teamsters Local 396 – ratified new collective bargaining agreements today after a seven day strike, aiming to protest Republic’s violations of federal labor laws that protect workers’ rights. The company’s illegal behavior included making unilateral changes without bargaining and threatening to retaliate against employees who participated in union activity.
The two contracts will cover workers through 2025 and include significant wage increases, among other improvements. Just hours after the new contracts in Orange Country were ratified, however, more than 250 workers at Republic Services in San Diego – members of Local 542 – went on strike to demand the company meet at the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract.
Dispute in San Diego is one of several other contracts the Teamsters are currently negotiating across the country, during the strike in Orange County, five striking members of Local 396 extended the picket line by traveling to Republic’s hauling yard in New Orleans and putting up a picket there. Other striking workers extended the picket line to Republic’s recycling facility in Anaheim. Republic Services workers at both locations – members of Teamsters Local 270 and 952, respectively – refused to cross Local 396’s picket line.
The company’s illegal behavior included making unilateral changes without bargaining and threatening to retaliate against employees who participated in union activity. Dispute in San Diego is one of several other contracts the Teamsters are currently negotiating across the country
Members of Teamsters Local 270 in New Orleans had recently been on strike themselves. They went on strike for three days in November 2021 in protest of Republic’s violations of federal labor laws. Republic Services is the second-largest trash collection, disposal and landfill corporation in America, with facilities in over 40 states. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 7,000 Republic workers nationwide. Teamster members who work for Republic Services are currently in negotiations for new contracts with the company in eight locations: San Diego, San Francisco, Stockton, San Jose and Richmond, Calif.; Seattle; Pittsburgh; and New Orleans.
«We see a pattern over and over again of Republic Services exploiting and abusing its workers, breaking the law, and giving our members no choice but to go on strike. There’s no excuse for this behavior,» said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division. «This company makes billions in profit for its executives and shareholders, off the hard work of its frontline employees. We ask that the company respect workers’ rights, make sure they are safe during the pandemic and are operating safe equipment, and pay them a fair return on their work. The strike in Los Angeles may be over, but Teamster members across America are fed up and will continue to take action until the company stops breaking the law and is willing to bargain fair contracts for these essential workers.»
«It took a seven-day strike with two extensions to get the company to promise to stop breaking the law and bargain fair contracts in Orange County,» Stiles added. «If Republic keeps violating the law and abusing its workers, I expect we’ll see more labor actions in other locations, as we saw this morning in San Diego.»
In 2020, Republic Services earned over $10 billion with $1.2 billion in net profit and its CEO’s total compensation totaled over $12 million. Republic has spent more than $736 million buying back its stock in recent years. Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Gates’ investment advisor sits on Republic’s board of directors.
«Teamsters at Republic Services showed their power this week, and I want to commend Local 396 members for leading the fight and winning a contract that reflects their value and will bring them respect,» said James P. Hoffa, General President of the Teamsters Union. «The contract victories in Orange County are a testament of our members’ grit and determination. But the fight continues. We will continue fighting across the country for Teamsters at Republic. When it comes to this company, workers must remain vigilant. Let this strike be a reminder that waste workers know their worth and have the power. The public is on their side, too. The pandemic has shed new light on sanitation work—the fifth-deadliest job in America—and our members put their lives on the line every day to protect the public’s health.»