Local Sanitation Workers Have Taken Vote to Strike if Necessary
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This morning, sanitation workers who work for Republic Services/Allied Waste in the Memphis area protested the company's intent to take away their pension. They joined nearly 1,000 sanitation workers at 18 other Republic/Allied worksites across the country who protested today.
The workers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 984, marched carrying signs that read "Just Practicing" and "Hands Off My Pension." A banner read "Republic/Allied: Don't Trash Our Communities."
Despite the workers' efforts to come to a resolution with the company over outstanding issues that include retirement security and basic respect on the job, Republic/Allied Waste has taken a hard line and remains intent on throwing Memphis-area sanitation workers out of the middle class.
On Oct. 13, 2012, workers held a meeting to discuss what might happen if the company refuses to negotiate a fair deal that allows workers to keep their pension and their dignity in old age.
"The company withdrew its last offer, so there was nothing to vote on. The members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if it comes to that," said Terry Lovan, President of Teamsters Local 984.
The Memphis workers have already received support from many allies in the community. They know that history and the people of Memphis are on their side.
Alvin Turner, who was one of the Memphis sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968, joined the workers this morning. He said, "These men have the power to carry on what we started in 1968. This job demands dignity, and their fight is our fight."
Corey Hayes, a residential container delivery driver at Republic/Allied Waste, said "This is Memphis. We all know the history of sanitation workers in this city and what the generations before us had to go through to make these decent jobs. Republic/Allied Waste is trying to turn back the clock and the community here isn't going to stand for it."
Republic/Allied Waste had flown in dozens of supervisors and non-union drivers from all over the country, from Seattle to Maine, over 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.
"The company is paying to bring these out-of-town guys in here and at the same time crying broke. The company is making us train them but they don't know our routes. We pick up at hospitals. We pick up at schools and in neighborhoods with kids running around. From where I sit it looks like the company is more interested in throwing us to the curb than they are in taking care of customers and the community," said Kevin Clark, a worker at Republic's North Area Landfill in Millington.
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.
In May, Republic/Allied Waste locked out 80 workers in Evansville, Ind. for six weeks. Out-of-town drivers damaged people's homes, cars and even power lines.
"We see this happening all over the country. Republic/Allied Waste 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."
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 about $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.
SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 984