Republic Services Sanitation Workers in Orange County, California Authorize Strike, Creating Potential Holiday Labor Dispute
Press Contact: Adan Alverez Phone: (323) 404-5939 Email: [email protected]
(ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.) — Over 400 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services at facilities in Anaheim and Huntington Beach have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the company, should it be necessary. This step follows multiple contract bargaining sessions with the company since the workers’ contract expired in late September. Little progress has been made in addressing worker concerns, including excessive working hours and constant harassment on the job. These essential sanitation workers have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that Orange County communities were kept clean and safe.
These hard-working men and women are members of Teamsters Local 396 based in Covina, Calif., affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents more than 7,000 Republic Services workers across the United States. These workers, who have made it clear that their preference is to reach a fair agreement with the company rather than a strike, serve Orange County cities such as Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and major tourist attractions, including Disneyland. If a contract is not ratified soon, Orange County could see a disruption in waste hauling during the holiday season, impacting thousands of residents and businesses.
“I’ve been a dedicated Republic Services worker for 14 years, doing my best to keep my community clean and safe. Throughout the pandemic, this has meant putting my health and well-being at risk to do my job as an essential worker,” said Michael Dominguez, a mechanic with Republic Services in Anaheim. “While Republic calls me and my colleagues ‘heroes,’ the company doesn’t treat us that way. In fact, they don’t even treat us as human beings or valued employees. We cannot put up with this any longer. While we are doing everything in our power to avoid a strike, Republic Services needs to be held accountable to a fair contract and bargaining in good faith.”
This strike vote is part of an ongoing contract campaign by Teamsters Local 396, which is currently bargaining contracts this fall with multiple waste hauling companies in Orange County, including Republic Services, CR&R, Waste Management, Park Disposal and WARE Disposal. These contracts cover over 1,000 sanitation workers in Orange County.
“As a driver for Republic Services, I have had the opportunity to serve on the frontlines of the Huntington Beach community for the last nine years, and I have been proud to do so. In turn, all I ask for is fair pay and a voice on the job, but Republic refuses to negotiate a fair contract with me and my fellow Teamsters,” said Omar Ortiz, a driver with Republic Services in Huntington Beach. “We have voted to authorize a strike vote because Republic needs to do better and start supporting its essential workers.”
“Through organizing, strikes and bargaining, we went from overworked, disrespected and underpaid immigrant workers to becoming hard-working union members who have lifted ourselves out of poverty. Now we want to join the middle class,” said Javier Bonales, Teamsters 396 Vice President and longtime sanitation worker in Orange County.
In 2020, Republic Services’ CEO’s total compensation totaled over $12 million. The CEO’s pay was 154 times the pay of an average worker. Rather than investing profits into higher wages or new trucks, Republic Services has spent more than $736 million buying back its stock. Meanwhile, waste and recycling collection is the fifth most dangerous job in America, composed primarily of immigrants and people of color.
“Teamsters working at Republic Services across Orange County are sending a strong message that they are ready to do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract. Republic Services needs to take negotiations seriously to ensure that these essential heroes who work hard to keep our cities clean and protect our environment get a fair contract,” said Ron Herrera, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396.