Waste workers at Teamsters Local 396 in Southern California have overwhelmingly ratified six separate contracts—covering more than 1,100 members—that contain many improvements.
The contracts are for waste workers in Orange County working at five companies: Waste Management, Republic Services, CR&R Environmental Services, Buena Park Disposal and Ware Disposal. All the contracts were ratified by a margin of about 90 percent.
“The magnitude of this, all these contracts expiring at the same time – it’s huge,” said Javier Bonales, Vice President of Teamsters Local 396. “We knew we had to roll up our sleeves, because there was a lot of work to do and not a lot of time.”
The contracts all deliver substantial increases in wages, and health, welfare and pension fund contributions, in addition to a number of other benefits. The language of the contracts protects driver safety, and revamps the arbitration process to include a board of adjustments to hear grievances – similar to what Teamster members have in the Freight and Package divisions.
The contracts also include stipulations regarding immigration status, a first for the Teamsters Solid Waste Division. Under the new contracts, Local 396 members are allowed to take time off from work to go to a hearing, meet with an attorney, or process paperwork related to immigration. As the process of going through immigration and naturalization can be extremely arduous and time-consuming, these provisions come as a great relief to many workers covered by the agreement.
The members took on a big role in the negotiations process. Every bargaining unit had member committees that participated, and every contract was reviewed with the member committees before the vote.
“I want to compliment all the committees and the rank and file for being patient, being diligent, for standing behind the local union, and for voting on these contracts with the overwhelming margin by which they passed,” Bonales added.
The success of negotiating five contracts in such a short time frame was not lost on Local 396 Secretary-Treasurer and Solid Waste Division Director Ron Herrera, who commended everyone involved in the negotiations.
“Successes are accomplished when the staff of the local union, the committees, and the members are all working together,” Herrera said. “I couldn’t be prouder of everyone that helped make this happen.”