Union-Friendly Homeowners Want to Know: How Do I Honor a Garbage Strike?

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Should homeowners let "scabs" pick up their garbage?
If you're anything of a labor sympathizer, you know there's one inviolable rule to follow: Never cross a picket line.

Normally, that works out just fine. If, say, Safeway workers go on strike, you can always go to the QFC. But what do you do when your garbage collectors go on strike? Let your trash pile up for weeks and refuse to let "scabs" touch it?

That's the unpleasant question that's now before the average homeowner as garbage workers from Teamsters Local 174 threaten to begin a strike at midnight tonight while employers Waste Management and Allied Waste are promising to bring in replacement workers--even going so far, in Waste Management's case, of taking out huge help wanted ads. So we asked Local 174 spokesperson Michael Gonzales how the union would like us to "honor" the picket line.

His answer: Go ahead and let replacement workers haul away your garbage. In fact, demand that they do.

The union is betting that the strikebreakers won't know what they're doing. "Waste Management has a two-month training period [to teach new employees how to use collection trucks]," says Gonzales. "So I don't know how they're going to take people off the street." Gonazles also notes that the average garbage collector makes between 800 and 1,000 stops a day.

If new and befuddled workers miss some of those stops, Waste Management and Allied Waste are subject to potential fines in many of the King and Snohomish county cities where they operate.

Thus, homeowners can nurture their inner clean freak and hold the companies' feet to the fire at the same time!

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