(Elyria, Ohio) – Sanitation workers employed at Republic Services/Allied Waste’s [NYSE: RSG] Carbon Limestone landfill traveled from Youngstown, Ohio to raise a picket line extension at Republic’s Elyria, Ohio facility early this morning. Republic’s workers in Elyria – almost 200 sanitation drivers and mechanics – are refusing to cross the picket line.
The striking landfill workers are members of Teamsters Local Union 377, and have been on strike since March 27. They are exercising their rights under federal law to strike in protest of Republic’s violations of federal labor law that protects workers’ rights. Republic illegally changed working conditions without bargaining and continues to refuse to provide pertinent information related to contract negotiations.
The sanitation drivers and mechanics in Elyria who are honoring the picket lines of their striking colleagues are members of Teamsters Local Union 20 in Toledo. These workers have the right under federal labor law to refuse to cross picket lines or to refuse to work in support of striking workers at other Republic/Allied Waste locations.
During the past year, Republic/Allied Waste has forced multiple lockouts and strikes, disrupting trash collection for hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and putting communities at risk in an effort to maximize profits for shareholders such as Bill Gates.
“Republic has been bullying its workers by locking them out of their jobs without pay, withholding paychecks, and demanding contract concessions – even though the company makes hundreds of millions in profits each year,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer.
“Sanitation workers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health,” Hall said. “They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Sanitation work is the fourth most dangerous job in the country,” said Robert Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “These workers are more likely to get killed on the job than police or firefighters. Yet for more than a year now, Republic has been trying to squeeze every last cent out of its workers by cheating them out of pay, ignoring health and safety protections, raising their health care costs, and cutting their retirement benefits.”
“Communities should also be aware of what Republic is doing to put their residents’ health at risk,” Morales said. “And it’s not just trash service disruptions and accidents caused by replacement workers. Republic’s record of endangering the public is getting worse – just ask Missouri and Ohio.”
In Bridgeton, Mo., an ongoing fire at Republic’s landfill has caused an explosion and months of noxious fumes. The fire is next to buried radioactive nuclear wastes. The Missouri Attorney General has just announced a lawsuit against Republic in order to force it to correct its environmental violations and to provide remedies to help local residents and businesses deal with the ongoing effects of the burning waste. The lawsuit also seeks to order Republic to pay for ongoing environmental testing for compounds such as dioxins, hydrogen cyanide and sulfur dioxide.
In Youngstown, a planned natural gas fracking project on the site of Republic’s landfill has residents concerned about pollution that will be generated from the industrial process of oil and gas production. In Stark County, Ohio, odors and other environmental violations stemming from nine years of underground fires at Republic’s Countywide landfill led to a $10 million fine from the EPA and an 800-plaintiff lawsuit against Republic that was just settled in March 2013.
Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $8.1 billion in 2012, with profits of more than $572 million. Bill Gates is the primary shareholder of Republic stock. Gates owns approximately $2.4 billion worth of stock, or 25 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates’ investment manager, sits on Republic’s board of directors.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us at http://www.pickupthegarbage.com/, on Twitter @RepubTeamsters and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RepublicServicesTeamsters