As Garbage Strike Begins, Waste Management's Replacement Workers Are MIA

garbage truck.jpg
You may not see a truck like this around for days.
Waste Management spokesperson Jackie Lang tells SW that it will likely take until "early next week" before most households and businesses will get their trash hauled away.

Early next week? Why not today? As Waste Management played hardball during the past tense weeks of contract negotiations, the company gave every indication of being ready to go with new workers if necessary. Not only did Waste Management fly in drivers from other parts of the country weeks ago, but it took out huge help wanted ads in local media, then announced that it was inundated by the response. As of this morning, Lang says, 2,100 people have applied.

So why isn't the company sending all those people out right now?

Lang says the problem is twofold. One, the company sent back the workers it had flown here from other parts of the country when it looked like a strike might not happen after all. When the latest contract expired on March 31 without a new agreement in hand, the workers' union, Teamsters Local 174, nevertheless said that it had no plans to strike.

Now Waste Management has to fly those people back again. They are beginning to arrive today, Lang says.

Sounds like the union might have been employing a crafty strategy to wait until the out-of-towners were gone before striking. "We had no idea whether [Waste Management] flew those people back or not," protests Teamsters Local 174 spokesperson Michael Gonzales, although he certainly seemed to know a lot about these workers while they were in town.

The second problem for Waste Management is that it didn't actually hire any of the 2,100 people who responded to its ads. Apparently, the company didn't want to pay for new workers while still shelling out money for the old ones. "We had drivers yesterday. We were paying them," Lang says, referring to the company's Teamsters workers.

Only now, she says, is the company moving 700 of those that responded to the ads "though the second stage of the application process." Once hired, they need to be trained by going around with experienced drivers. And that, Lang says, will take weeks.

In the mean time, she says the out-of-towners, once they get up to speed next week, will handle the routes should this turn into a prolonged strike.

 
comments powered by Disqus