(SEATTLE) – Sanitation workers on strike at Republic Services [NYSE: RSG] in Marshfield, Mass., continued their picket line extensions in the Puget Sound area this morning.
Hundreds of Republic Services/Allied Waste workers – members of Teamsters Local 38, Local 117, Local 174 and Local 763 – once again exercised their right to honor the picket lines.
The striking workers, members of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, have been on strike since August, after Republic refused to agree to a contract with a livable wage and affordable health care. On average, they are paid 40 percent below what it takes to make a living wage in Massachusetts for a family with one adult and one child, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is Republic Services’ biggest shareholder. His personal investment manager, Michael Larson, sits on Republic’s Board of Directors.
“We hope the residents of Washington State will call their mayors and city councilpersons to ask why their trash isn’t being picked up,” said Sean O’Brien, President of Teamsters Local 25 and Teamsters International Vice President. “The reason is that Bill Gates gets over $100 million in stock dividends alone from Republic each year, yet meanwhile front-line trash collectors are being forced to go on strike for a living wage and health care their families can afford.”
“Sanitation work is the fifth-most deadly job in America,” O’Brien said. “These workers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health. Yet Gates and Republic executives have chosen to pay themselves outrageous sums of money instead of providing trash collectors a fair return on the dangerous work they do in the streets every day.”
The Teamsters represent over 7,000 Republic Services workers across the country. Recently, hundreds of Republic sanitation workers in Northern and Southern California represented by Teamsters Local 350 and 396 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the company.
Last month, Republic sanitation workers represented by Teamsters Local 728 went on strike in Cumming, Georgia, to protest the company’s violations of federal laws that protect workers’ rights.
Recent calculations show that workers in 10 cities with a combined population of over 1 million residents are currently in contract negotiations with Republic Services, and that Teamsters in 31 cities with a combined population of over 6 million residents have the right to honor picket lines.