Teamsters Local 631 Members Authorize Strike After Weeks of Contentious Negotiations; Contract Expires May 31
(LAS VEGAS) – More than 1,200 members of Teamsters Local 631 in Las Vegas voted to authorize a strike at Republic Services last night. The vote to strike was overwhelming, with 95 percent of participating members voting in favor, and comes after weeks of contentious contract negotiations with the company.
“We have been dedicated workers throughout the pandemic, serving on the frontline to keep Las Vegas clean and safe. This has meant putting our health and well-being at risk. We deserve better than this,” said Samuel Bronson, an 18-year commercial driver at Republic Services and Local 631 member. “The company calls me and my colleagues ‘heroes,’ but they don’t treat us that way on the job. In fact, they don’t even treat us with common human decency. We cannot put up with this treatment anymore. This vote reflects our belief that we deserve better. Republic Services must be held accountable. It’s time for this company to bargain in good faith and negotiate a fair contract.”
Bronson and his co-workers service communities and businesses throughout Las Vegas, including McCarran International Airport, casinos and other major tourist attractions. If a contract is not ratified soon, the city could see a major disruption in waste hauling, impacting tens of thousands of residents, tourists and businesses.
“The overwhelming vote sends Republic Services the clearest possible message of how insulted and disrespected our members are by this company,” said Tommy Blitsch, Local 631 Secretary-Treasurer. “These workers will not hesitate to strike if things don’t change in the next three weeks.”
Local 631 and the company will return to the negotiating table later this month. The current contract expires on May 31.
“Republic Services will stop at nothing to bust the union. Their behavior during negotiations with Local 631 shows they have learned nothing the past year. Republic workers are fed up. They’ve had enough. All across the country, our members are fighting back and telling this company they’re not going to take it anymore,” said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division. “This is our biggest unit at Republic, and we will not allow the company to gut this contract. If we don’t stop this from happening in Vegas, there’s no doubt that this company will continue these tactics in other locations. The Teamsters aren’t going to stand for it. We are going to be vigilant.”
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. A week after the Orange County strike, more than 400 San Diego County workers commenced a month-long strike against Republic following similar disputes in contract negotiations.
Republic Services’ CEO’s total compensation totaled over $12 million in 2020—154 times the pay of an average Republic worker. The company reported 15 percent growth in total revenue for 2021. Rather than investing profits into higher wages or new trucks, the company has spent more than $736 million buying back its stock. Meanwhile, workers continue to fight for better working conditions, and waste and recycling collection remains the fifth most dangerous job in America.
“Republic Services has made billions at the expense of its workforce and saw record profits during the pandemic,” said Sean M. O’Brien, Teamsters General President. “It’s clear that they aren’t going to appreciate us until we demand that they recognize the role we play in achieving their success. We will strike if necessary. Local 631 members are ready, and they have the backing of more than one million Teamsters across North America.”
This Sunday, O’Brien, Stiles and Blitsch will be holding a national call for all Teamster members at Republic Services to discuss strategy and begin preparations for a possible sanitation strike in Las Vegas.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 7,000 Republic Services workers across the United States.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.