(ATLANTA) – At midnight tonight, sanitation workers employed by Republic Services [NYSE: RSG] walked off the job to protest the company’s violations of federal labor law.
The 120 drivers, helpers, mechanics and dispatchers who are members of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta had voted to authorize a strike on Sunday. The workers allege that Republic broke federal law when it took work away from full-time mechanics and outsourced it to subcontractors.
“Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King led the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. Today, we are on strike and are walking in the footsteps of those brave Memphis workers,” said Marcus Redding, a mechanic at Republic Services in Atlanta.
Redding continued, “This giant corporation and its executives think they can get away with breaking the law and intimidating us. By standing together and withholding our labor, we are sending the message that we won’t take their abuse.”
This is not be the first time Teamsters have struck Republic in Georgia. In 2013, workers at the company’s hauling yard in McDonough went on strike to protest Republic’s violations of federal labor laws. Republic had fired a worker who supported the union and stopped paying drivers for time they worked while returning trucks to the yard.
Over the last several years, Republic/Allied Waste’s behavior resulted in numerous work stoppages — including lockouts and strikes across the United States — disrupting trash collection for hundreds of thousands of people and putting communities at risk.
“We put our lives on the line every day to protect the public health in the fifth-most dangerous job in America,” said Dave Thomas, a commercial driver in Atlanta.
“While Republic counts its billions — including the $190 million it just got in its corporate tax cut — it won’t even give us affordable health care coverage,” Thomas continued.
“In my opinion, Republic is breaking the law to bully its workers into accepting unaffordable health insurance and a terrible contract,” said Randy Brown, President of Local 728. “The hard work of Republic’s frontline employees brings the company more than $10 billion in revenues each year, yet the company wants to keep all the profits and let its workers take the crumbs.”
“Republic earned net profits of more than $1.2 billion in 2017, and its primary shareholder is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the second-richest person in the world. The greed of the 1% is staggering,” said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division.
Herrera continued, “It’s outrageous that Republic refuses to pay its workers a fair return on their work. And now it’s breaking the law and violating some of the few protections workers in this country have.”
Redding added, “When we do the work that earns the company billions, and it tries to bully us by illegally subcontracting our work, it’s time for us to stand together and fight back – and that’s what we’re doing today.”
Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $10 billion in 2017. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is the primary shareholder of Republic stock. Gates owns approximately 30 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates’ investment manager, sits on Republic’s board of directors.