Sanitation Workers In 19 Cities Hold “Just Practicing” Picketing Actions
(WASHINGTON) – Today, more than 1,000 sanitation workers in 19 cities who work for Republic Services/Allied Waste protested the company with “Just Practicing” picketing actions. The workers protested Republic’s attempts to strip workers of their pensions in many locations, and the company’s tactics of intimidation across the country.
Teamster-represented sanitation workers in Evansville, Ind.; Memphis, Tenn.; Urbana, Ill.; Youngstown, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Adrian, Mich.; Fremont, Calif.; Daly City, Calif.; Fairfield, Calif.; Gardena, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Anaheim, Calif.; Revere, Mass.; Atlanta, GA; Mobile, Ala.; Bellevue, Wash.; and Buffalo, NY picketed at Republic/Allied facilities with signs that read “Sanitation Workers United”, “Just Practicing” and “Hands Off My Pension.” Their banners read “Republic/Allied: Don’t Trash Our Communities.”
In May, Republic/Allied Waste locked out 80 members of Teamsters Local 215 in Evansville, Ind. for six weeks when the workers refused to accept the destruction of their pension. Out-of-town replacement drivers damaged people’s homes, vehicles and even power lines during the lockout.
“We see this happening all over the country. Republic holds the community hostage by threatening a public health and safety crisis to try to get workers to accept substandard conditions,” said Robert Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “This is the fourth most dangerous job in the country. These workers literally put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health and they deserve dignity and respect.”
This type of behavior isn’t new for Republic. In March, the company walked away from a ratified contract with Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Ala. Local 991 members were forced to strike to protest the company’s illegal behavior and finally secure a contract.
“What kind of company bullies its workers like this – letting them and their families go without paychecks for weeks and months?” said Chuck Whobrey, President of Teamsters Local 215 in Evansville. “Allied Waste/Republic Services was willing to destroy the hard-earned retirement security of its front-line workers here in the Evansville area. The company tried to starve these workers into agreeing to give up their pension plan and put their families’ futures at risk. Sanitation workers don’t get much recognition, but they deserve a secure retirement.”
In Memphis, Republic/Allied Waste has flown in dozens of supervisors and non-union drivers from all over the country during the past few weeks, to intimidate workers and try to convince the community that garbage will be picked up even if the company locks out its workers.
Today’s rallies show the solidarity that Teamster sanitation workers have with each other and have displayed each time Republic/Allied tries to abuse them. When Teamsters struck in Alabama, workers in four other cities across the country honored their picket lines before the company came to its senses a little over a week later. During the lockout in Evansville, workers in five cities honored picket lines before the lockout was ended.
Today’s “just practicing” picketing actions did not ask Republic/Allied employees to cease working. They were intended as a wake-up call to Republic/Allied executives and local elected officials that the company’s efforts to bully workers through locking them out of their jobs could instigate sympathy pickets at Republic facilities across America.
Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $8.2 billion in 2011. It earned $149.2 million in 2nd quarter net profits in 2012, up from $46.5 million in the same period of 2011, an increase of over 220 percent. This resulted in a 7 percent quarterly dividend for shareholders such as Bill Gates. As the largest owner of the company, Gates owns approximately $2.15 billion worth of stock, or 22 percent of the total worth of the company. In May, the same month it locked out workers in Evansville, the company approved a death and disability benefit for its CEO valued at more than $23 million.