Press Releases

Teamsters Win Back Pay Settlement for Republic Services Workers in Ohio


United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Rules in Favor of Local 20 Members; Court Decision is the Latest in a Series of Labor Relations Missteps at Republic Services

(WASHINGTON)—Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit enforced an arbitrator’s ruling that Republic Services violated the collective bargaining agreement of Teamsters Local 20 members in Elyria, Ohio.  The arbitrator had found that the company had improperly denied the workers the agreed-upon incentive rates of pay. As a result of the court’s decision, the affected workers will now receive a significant back pay award.  

“It means a lot to us to win this decision. We were treated unfairly. Other employees were paid more while Republic Services held us down with a lower rate,” said Thomas Coultrip, a residential driver at Republic Services who filed the initial grievance against the company. “At the end of the day, this was about what was right. The company tried to pull one over us and we refused to stand for it. This is a wonderful win for justice.”

In 2017, management unilaterally changed the workers’ incentive rates, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Brother Coultrip’s grievance went to arbitration and the arbitrator decided that it had merit. The company went to court, seeking to overturn the arbitrator’s decision. The March 8 decision by the Sixth Circuit decisively ruled that the arbitrator had properly decided that the company had violated the collective bargaining agreement. The court sustained the arbitrator’s finding that the company’s actions had cost waste-collection route drivers $2,859.48 per year and recycling route drivers $17,837.76 per year.

“The court’s decision was a long time coming. I was a business agent when these workers’ rights were violated in 2017. The company thought they could skirt the rules, but we took this fight from arbitration all the way to the second-highest court in the country and showed Republic Services that they are not above the law. Now, workers will receive the back pay they are rightfully due. Teamsters Local 20 will always fight to ensure employers respect workers with fair treatment and fair rates for our members,” said Mark Schmiehausen, President of Local 20.  

The Ohio ruling is just the latest in a series of labor law violations committed by Republic Services. On Dec. 9, 2021, more than 400 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services in Orange County, Calif., went on strike in response to the company’s unfair labor practices committed during contract negotiations, including making unilateral changes in working conditions and threatening reprisals against employees who participated in union activity.

A week after the Orange County workers took to the picket line, more than 400 San Diego County workers commenced a monthlong strike against Republic following similar disputes in contract negotiations. During both strikes, workers received the support of their communities and local political leaders. During the San Diego strike, the mayor of the City of Chula Vista spoke out and called on the company to negotiate a fair contract.

In addition to these contract disputes, Republic Services is also facing legal liability for violating the legal rights of its employees. Just last week, Waste Dive reported that Republic had received notice of that it had violated the rights of workers by engaging in unlawful discrimination in Georgia [link article here]. In January, the Teamsters Union released the disturbing results of a survey conducted among Republic workers nationally. The survey found that a majority of workers of color reported elevated concerns around discrimination and mistreatment. The survey results can be found here.

Republic Services [NYSE: RSG] is the second-largest trash collection and landfill company in America. In 2020, Republic Services earned over $10 billion, with $1.2 billion in net profit, while its CEO’s total compensation totaled over $12 million. Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Gates’ investment advisor sits on Republic’s board of directors. Earlier this year, Republic awarded its board members with increased compensation totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and stock.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 7,000 workers at Republic Services throughout the U.S.

“We see a pattern over and over again of Republic Services exploiting and abusing its workers. There’s no excuse for this behavior. The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is proof that justice will ultimately prevail when it comes this company’s treatment of workers,” said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division. “It’s high time that Republic Services respects the rights of their employees because labor relations are at an all-time low. The Teamsters will not back down until every worker is treated and compensated fairly.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at