MOBILE, Ala., June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters who work at Republic Services [NYSE: RSG] in Mobile held a "Just Practicing" picket today to protest Republic's plans to enact an unaffordable health insurance plan. The workers, who are members of Teamsters Local Union 991, were joined on the picket line by Teamsters from other work sites and members of the community.
"Republic's sanitation workers risk their lives every day to protect the public health, in the sixth-most dangerous job in America," said Robert Morales, Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division Director. "It is outrageous that the Republic's CEO's estate will get $14 million if he dies, yet the company wants to put its frontline workers in a health care plan they cannot afford."
In contract negotiations, Republic refuses to move from its stance is that it should be able to change the workers' health care plan at any time.
"Republic wants to be able to change health insurance plans without having to bargain with its workers, even though the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Republic is required to bargain over any changes to workers' health care" said Jim Gookins, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 991. "Last year the company had $8.4 billion in revenues, with profits of more than $589 million. It's offensive that Republic would try to move its workers - who do one of the most dangerous jobs in America – into an unaffordable health care plan. This is part of a larger pattern we see in how Republic treats the health of its workers."
Gookins continued, "Our members are not yet on strike, and we hope that today's activities bring elected officials and company executives to their senses before Republic locks out workers or provokes another work stoppage. This community doesn't need Republic forcing another sanitation crisis on Mobile businesses and residents."
In 2012, Republic Teamsters in Mobile were forced to go on strike when the company reneged on an agreement that provided modest improvements to workers' health care benefits. Striking workers and community allies extended picket lines that were honored by fellow Republic workers in Columbus, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Lynwood, Wash.
Last year, the driver that Republic named its "Driver of the Year" in Brewton, Ala. was hospitalized and required months of kidney dialysis. Republic held back his disability checks and did not pay many of his medical bills.
Republic Services/Allied Waste is America's second largest solid waste and recycling company. The company has an estimated $14 million earmarked for the estate of CEO Donald Slager should he die or become disabled during employment.
Republic's largest shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who owns nearly 25 percent of the company's shares through Cascade Investment, LLC – about $3.3 billion worth. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also owns 1.35 million shares of Republic stock. Michael Larson, chief investment officer at Cascade Investment and investment manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been a Republic Services board director since 2009.
The Teamsters represent approximately 9,000 employees at Republic Services and its subsidiaries at more than 150 facilities throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
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Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters.
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters