(EVANSVILLE, Ind.) – Sanitation workers on strike at Republic Services [NYSE: RSG] in Marshfield, Mass., extended their picket line to the Republic facility in Evansville, Ind., this morning. Over 70 Republic Services workers in Evansville who are members of Teamsters Local 215 exercised their right to honor the picket line.
The trash service in at least eight communities in Indiana are affected, including Evansville, Boonville, Mt. Vernon, Oakland City, Princeton, Chandler, Fort Branch and Newburgh.
The striking workers, members of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, began their strike on Aug. 29 after Republic refused to agree to a contract with a livable wage and affordable health care. On average, the striking sanitation workers 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.
“Republic Services had almost $3 billion in profits last year,” said striking Republic employee Brandon Taylor. “But instead of giving us a fair return on our work, Republic is paying out huge salaries to its executives and huge dividends to its shareholders.”
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is Republic Services’ biggest shareholder. His personal investment manager, Michael Larson, sits on Republic’s Board of Directors.
“Sanitation work is the fifth-deadliest job in America,” said Sean O’Brien, President of Teamsters Local 25 and Teamsters International Vice President. “Yet Republic continually refuses to address inequality and unsafe conditions. Republic has forced quite a few strikes in cities across America over the past few years, due to its violations of federal labor laws.”
“Bill Gates gets over $100 million in stock dividends alone from Republic each year, yet meanwhile Republic employees are on the picket line for a living wage,” O’Brien continued.
“Republic executives get to use the company’s private jet for personal trips to Hawaii and Cabo San Lucas, meanwhile, we do the dangerous work that earns them their profits, and we can’t even support our families on what we’re paid,” Taylor said.
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.