(ATLANTA) – Teamsters who work at Republic Services, Bill Gates’ giant trash corporation [NYSE: RSG], are fighting back against discrimination. Republic workers wore stickers in six states today to protest Republic’s wage discrimination system. In Atlanta, new hires are paid less at all levels for doing the same job as workers hired previously.
In addition, African-American employees in Atlanta have filed U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges against Republic, alleging that the company offers overtime to white employees but not to black employees.
Republic Services workers in Atlanta and McDonough, Ga., who are members of Teamsters Local Union 728, wore stickers today that read, “Republic Services: Stop the Wage Discrimination.” Teamsters who work for Republic in Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee wore the same stickers to work today as well.
“Last month, Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort, Georgia State House Representatives Dewey McClain and Roger Bruce, and Dianne Mathiowetz of Moral Monday Georgia presented a letter to Republic management in Atlanta, demanding an end to racial discrimination,” said Chuck Stiles, Assistant Director, Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “However, Republic management refused to sign it.”
“Republic’s sanitation workers risk their lives every day to protect the public health, in the sixth-most dangerous job in America,” said Robert Morales, Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division Director. “It is outrageous that Republic takes in $8.4 billion a year and that Bill Gates has received upwards of $100 million in dividends over the past year, yet the company discriminates against African-American workers in Georgia and is trying to force its workers into an unaffordable health care plan in Alabama.”
In Alabama, Republic refuses to move from its stance that it should be able to change the workers’ health care plan at any time. In contract negotiations, Republic’s proposal would allow them to change health insurance plans without having to bargain with its workers, even though the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Republic is required to bargain over any changes to workers’ health care.
In 2012, Republic Teamsters in Mobile were forced to go on strike when the company reneged on an agreement that provided modest improvements to workers’ health care benefits. Striking workers and community allies extended picket lines that were honored by fellow Republic workers in Columbus, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Lynwood, Wash.
Last year, the driver that Republic named its “Driver of the Year” in Brewton, Ala. was hospitalized and required months of kidney dialysis. Republic held back his disability checks and did not pay many of his medical bills.
Republic Services/Allied Waste is America’s second largest solid waste and recycling company. The company has an estimated $14 million earmarked for the estate of CEO Donald Slager should he die or become disabled during employment.
Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who owns nearly 30 percent of the company’s shares through Cascade Investment, LLC – about $3.3 billion worth. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also owns 1.35 million shares of Republic stock. Michael Larson, chief investment officer at Cascade Investment and investment manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been a Republic Services board director since 2009.
The Teamsters represent approximately 9,000 employees at Republic Services and its subsidiaries at more than 150 facilities throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
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Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters.