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After a Long Battle, Waste Workers in Evansville, Indiana Ratify Contract

On July 22, 80 workers at Republic Services/Allied Waste in Evansville, Ind. ratified a contract that provides significant wage increases and strong retirement security.

The contract, which runs until April 1, 2016, provides a $1 per hour wage increase the first year, followed by 50-cent per hour increases in the second and third years.

The contract also protects the workers’ solid retirement security. The company had attempted to throw out the workers’ pension. Instead, the company wanted the workers to join a 401(k) plan. However, many workers opt to not join 401(k) plans, so that would have put workers at risk, said Chuck Whobrey, President of Local 215 in Evansville.

“The members will remain in a Teamsters pension fund, so when they retire they will still have a defined benefit pension plan,” Whobrey said.

Last year, Republic locked its workers out of their jobs for six weeks without pay, solely over differences of opinion during contract negotiations. The company intentionally left the Evansville community without reliable trash service in an attempt to starve its workers and their families into submission. The company’s actions and other incidents across the country triggered strikes and support pickets by dozens of local unions at locations nationwide.

“While it was a long battle, we would not have been successful without the strong support of our members and the strong support of the International Union and multiple local unions that got involved in this fight,” Whobrey said.

“Our members nationwide stood united with the workers in Evansville,” said Bob Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “Our members also supported the other strikes that occurred across the country. The strong solidarity is helping us today, and this Evansville contract is an example of that.”

The contract also gives the workers the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday off.

“This was significant because they handle the residential pickup in Evansville, and city workers in all the other departments have that day off,” Whobrey said. “It is also significant because of Dr. King’s strong support of working people and waste workers.”

The contract also improves the discipline and discharge procedures and bereavement leave, and increases the workers’ boot allowance.

It also maintains the workers’ rights to honor primary picket lines. “The company wanted a 10-day notice, which was totally unacceptable. We did not change one sentence in this language protecting their rights to honor picket lines,” Whobrey said.