(CORONA, Calif.) – Close to 200 sanitation workers employed by Waste Management, Inc., at facilities in Chino and Corona, Calif., have voted unanimously to authorize a strike against the company. This step follows multiple contract bargaining sessions with the company since the workers’ contract expired in April. Little progress has been made in addressing worker concerns, including fair treatment and constant harassment on the job. These essential sanitation workers have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that communities throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 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 thousands of Waste Management 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 strike, serve cities in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, such as Corona, Chino, Norco, Chino Hills, and Eastvale. If a contract is not ratified soon, this region’s cities could see a waste hauling disruption impacting thousands of residents and businesses.
“I’ve been a dedicated Waste Management worker for over 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 Luis Barba, a driver at Waste Management Corona, Calif. “While Waste Management calls me and my colleagues ‘heroes,’ the company doesn’t treat us that way. 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, Waste Management needs to be held accountable to a fair contract and bargaining in good faith.”
“As a driver for Waste Management, I have had the opportunity to serve on the frontlines of the City of Chino, and I have been proud to do so. In turn, I only ask for fair pay and a voice on the job. Still, Waste Management refuses to negotiate a fair contract with me and my fellow Teamsters,” said Alfonso Camargo, a driver with Waste Management in Chino, Calif. “We have voted to authorize a strike vote because Waste Management needs to do better and start supporting its essential workers.”
In 2021, Waste Management’s CEO’s total compensation totaled over $13 million. The CEO’s pay was hundreds of times the average worker’s pay. Rather than investing profits into higher wages, benefits, and safer working conditions for its essential workers, it has continued to raise the salaries of overpaid executives. Meanwhile, waste and recycling collection continues to be America’s 5th most dangerous job.
Additionally, instead of investing its profits in its workers and services to the community, the company has apparently used its expendable cash on currying favor with local cities the company aims to do or already does business with. A recent example is in the City of Eastvale, where the city received an 8 million-dollar retention bonus back from Waste Management as part of the City renewing its waste hauling franchise agreement. With transactions like these and no respect from Waste Management, you can understand why Waste Management Teamsters at the Chino and Corona facilities are frustrated that even though the company is willing to spend millions to curry favor with politicians who approve Waste Management’s contracts, it continues to drag its feet when it comes to reaching a labor agreement that treats its workers fairly and with dignity.
“Teamsters at Waste Management across San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are sending a strong message that they are ready to do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract. Waste Management 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.