Press Releases

City of Lawrence Waste Workers Ratify First Teamster Contract


Local 696 Members Vote Unanimously in Favor of New Three-Year Agreement

(LAWRENCE, Kan.) – Sanitation workers employed by the City of Lawrence unanimously ratified their first Teamster contract yesterday. The three-year agreement contains a modernized wage scale and substantial benefits as well as strong seniority language, grievance procedure, consistent work rules and improved working conditions. The group of more than 70 sanitation workers is represented by Local 696 in Topeka, Kan.

“We are thrilled to be working under contract. This agreement contains countless improvements that sanitation workers in Lawrence have gone too long without. We are proud of what we have accomplished,” said Jody Norcross, a sanitation driver for the City of Lawrence and chief steward at Local 696. “This is a huge win. We hope this win will encourage other workers for the City of Lawrence to join us and build on our momentum to continue bringing real change to this city.”

Norcross served as one of the leading voices on the worker-led organizing committee during last summer’s campaign to win union representation with Local 696. On August 27, he and his co-workers voted overwhelmingly, by 99 percent, to join the Teamsters Union. 

“My co-workers and I came together and worked as a team throughout the bargaining process. We were united from the start in what we were trying to achieve in this contract,” said Sean Elston, a sanitation driver who also served as a leading member of the bargaining committee. “When workers thrive, the entire community benefits.”

Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, Elston said the pandemic served as a reminder of the crucial work he and his co-workers provide and made them more determined to secure a strong first contract. He also noted that the agreement will serve as a solid foundation for the 71-worker unit to make future gains at the bargaining table.

“This contract will ensure workers for the City of Lawrence receive the respect they deserve. This dedicated group did what they set out to accomplish when they first reached out to unionize with Local 696. They were determined to secure the backing of a strong Teamster contract,” said Matt Hall, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 696. “We are proud of this historic victory and congratulate this determined group for leading the way. Local 696 will continue to fight for all workers at the City of Lawrence to win a union voice.”