Youngstown Landfill Workers On Unfair Labor Practice Strike Extend Picket Lines; Widespread Trash Service Disruptions Expected Across Ohio
David WhiteEmail: [email protected]
(Youngstown, OH) – Picket lines were extended to six Republic Services/Allied Waste locations in five Ohio cities early this morning by striking sanitation workers at Republic’s [NYSE: RSG] Carbon Limestone landfill outside of Youngstown, Ohio. View more photos.
The 23 landfill workers, members of Teamsters Local Union 377 in Youngstown, went on an unfair labor practice strike on March 27. They are exercising their legal right to strike in protest of Republic’s violations of federal labor laws that protect workers’ rights. Republic broke federal law during contract negotiations and with its effort to intimidate workers in the workplace.
Close to 600 drivers, helpers and mechanics at Republic’s Youngstown, Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland hauling yards are refusing to cross the picket lines. The drivers, helpers and mechanics honoring the lines are members of Teamsters Local Unions 377, 284, 92, 20, 244 and 964, respectively. These workers have the legal right to refuse to cross picket lines in support of striking workers at other Republic locations.
Previously, hundreds of Teamster members have refused to work at Republic locations in 10 cities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and California, in support of the striking landfill workers.
"I'm on strike because I'm sick of this $8 billion company breaking the law to intimidate and bully us. We’re the ones who work every day to make them all that money," said Darrell Zeh, a landfill worker and member of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown. "I've picketed now in three other cities and the support has been overwhelming. Everyone seems to be fed up with this corporation's greed."
Paul Auxer, a driver at Republic’s hauling yard in Columbus, said, “When I started talking to my colleagues from other cities, we realized that Republic treats workers this way everywhere.
We go on the Facebook page and share photos and stories with each other, and lots of them are asking when it’s going to be their turn to go out. We’ll be out here as long as we need to be. When Round 2 comes – if it comes to that – we’ll be out here again supporting my brothers and sisters however it’s needed.”
Over the past year, Republic/Allied Waste has forced multiple lockouts and strikes, disrupting trash collection for hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and putting communities at risk. Republic earned profits of more than $572 million in 2012. The company’s primary shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the second wealthiest person in the world.
Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer, said, “Sanitation work is the fourth most dangerous job in the country. These workers are two times more likely to be killed on the job than police officers, and seven times more likely to be killed on the job than firefighters. But Republic is locking workers out of their jobs without pay, cheating them in their paychecks and demanding contract concessions even though the company makes hundreds of millions in profits each year.”
In Evansville, Ind., Republic locked its workers out of their jobs for six weeks without pay, solely over differences of opinion during contract negotiations. The company intentionally left the Evansville community without reliable trash service in an attempt to starve its workers and their families into submission. In Mobile, Ala., Republic agreed to a new contract, then went back on its word when it wanted to unilaterally impose changes to the health care plan that would have made it more expensive for workers. In Memphis, Tenn., Republic has withheld checks from workers in an attempt to bully and intimidate them.
In numerous locations, Republic is taking up to $140 per month out of workers’ paychecks for health insurance “tobacco” or “spouse” surcharges, even if they don’t smoke or their spouses have no other insurance option. When notified of the errors that can total up to $1,700 per person per year, Republic refuses to return the money to them. Other workers have seen their paychecks shrink now that Republic’s lawyers are exploiting loopholes in the law to pay overtime at rates as low as $6 or $7 per hour.
“These forms of bullying and harassment are unconscionable,” said Robert Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “And the abuse is not just limited to workers. Communities should also be aware of what Republic is doing to put their residents’ health at risk. Republic’s record of endangering the public is getting worse – just ask Missouri and Ohio.”
In Bridgeton, Mo., an ongoing fire at Republic’s landfill has caused an explosion and months of noxious fumes. The fire is next to buried radioactive nuclear wastes. The Missouri Attorney General is suing Republic in order to force it to correct its environmental violations. The lawsuit also seeks to order Republic to pay for ongoing environmental testing for compounds such as dioxins, hydrogen cyanide and sulfur dioxide.
In Youngstown, a planned natural gas fracking project on the site of Republic’s landfill has residents concerned about pollution that will be generated from the industrial process of oil and gas production. In Stark County, Ohio, odors and other environmental violations stemming from nine years of underground fires at Republic’s Countywide landfill led to a $10 million fine from the EPA and an 800-plaintiff lawsuit against Republic that was just settled in March 2013.
Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $8.1 billion in 2012. Bill Gates is the primary shareholder of Republic stock. Gates owns approximately $2.4 billion worth of stock, or 25 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates’ investment manager, sits on Republic’s board of directors.
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 www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us at www.PickUpTheGarbage.com, on Twitter @RepubTeamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RepublicServicesTeamsters.