Teamsters Secure New Agreements for Hundreds of Waste Workers
(WASHINGTON)—More than 600 workers at Republic Services in Los Angeles County have secured industry-leading agreements with Teamsters Local 396. The contract victory is the latest in a string of new Teamster agreements at Republic Services and follows overwhelming ratification votes by members of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, Ohio, and Teamsters Local 324 in Salem, Ore.
In total, nearly 900 Teamsters nationwide have ratified nine new agreements with Republic Services since December, marking a successful launch of coordinated bargaining by the Solid Waste and Recycling Division under the O’Brien-Zuckerman administration.
“The new approach in negotiations paid off big. Thanks to coordinated bargaining between locals and the solidarity of our members across the country, the company saw we were united and knew better than to play its usual games,” said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Solid Waste and Recycling Division. “Our members are more militant, motivated, and excited under the new leadership at the International. It’s making the difference in negotiations all over the country.”
The contracts will cover Teamsters for the next three years and provide significant workplace improvements, including major wage increases and improvements to pension and health care.
“Our members at Republic Services stood strong and won major wage and benefit increases that will lift standards in an industry that has historically exploited a workforce composed primarily of immigrants and people of color,” said Victor Mineros, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 in Covina, Calif. “These workers demonstrated the courage and determination that defines what it means to be a Teamster.”
Local 396 members voted nearly unanimously for ratification with record turnout, Mineros noted.
“As a veteran Teamster sanitation worker, I can truly say that this is the best contract we have won to date. Blood, sweat, and tears went into this fight, but today, we hold our heads up proudly with this victory,” said Ralph Moran, a driver at Republic Services in Gardena, Calif.
Local 396 was one of several local unions bargaining for a new contract. In late October, three bargaining units at Local 377—residential, commercial, and landfill—voted unanimously to authorize a strike at Republic Services following contentious negotiations with the company. Local 324 was also in negotiations and, along with Local 396, had prepared to honor the picket line in the event of a strike in Ohio. The three locals worked closely with the Solid Waste and Recycling Division throughout the bargaining process.
“Locals were communicating with each other throughout negotiations, and the division guided the way, keeping us united and moving in the right direction,” said Ralph “Sam” Cook, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 377 in Youngstown, Ohio. “These companies will pick you apart if you don’t stick together.”
“Our success at the table was a direct result of our unity. When the company saw multiple locals joining in the bargaining sessions, our strength at the table was made clear,” said Chris R. Muhs, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 324 in Salem, Ore.
Muhs noted that under the new agreement, wages will more than double for Local 324 members. Youngstown workers also noted the unprecedented gains made at the table.
“Everybody was strong and opinionated throughout negotiations. We fought hard to get this done and are happy with the results,” said Paul Gavin, a 34-year commercial driver at Republic Services and head steward for Local 377. “The union always works better when we’re all working together.”
Rank-and-file members like Gavin played an active role representing waste workers throughout negotiations at both locals, sitting in on bargaining sessions via Zoom and sending a strong message to the company that Teamster members were standing together nationwide.
“The strength of these agreements is a direct result of locals and members supporting one another at the table. Collaboration through national bargaining is key to securing strong contracts and raising industry standards,” Stiles said. “These victories will lay the groundwork for even more success in 2023.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.