$8.2 Billion Company Threatening To Lock Us Out, Workers Say
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Saturday afternoon at the Gift of Life Ministries, sanitation workers from Republic Services/Allied Waste in the Memphis area testified at a workers' rights board hearing assembled by the Workers Interfaith Network. The workers testified about Republic's abusive actions toward Memphis workers and Memphis communities.
The sanitation workers described how, in recent contract negotiations, Republic is refusing to allow workers to keep their pension and their dignity and economic security in old age. These sanitation workers are represented by Teamsters Local 984 in Memphis.
"Republic has a nationwide plan to strip its workers of decent benefits," said Terry Lovan, President of Teamsters Local 984. "We've seen the company bully its workers and endanger its customers through the use of lockouts. This is the fourth most dangerous job in America. Sanitation workers literally put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health and they deserve dignity and respect."
Workers also testified that Republic/Allied Waste flew dozens of supervisors and non-union drivers into Memphis from all over the country 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.
"Republic holds communities hostage by threatening a public health and safety crisis to try to get workers to accept substandard working conditions," said Corey Hayes, a residential container driver who testified today.
The workers' rights board was composed of the Rev. Dr. Andre Johnson, Gifts of Life Ministries and professor of rhetoric & religion and African American Studies at Memphis Theological Seminary; the Rev. Mary Edwards, Greenleaf C.M.E. Church; the Rev. Herbert Lester, Asbury United Methodist Church; Dr. Pete Gathje, Associate Dean and Professor of Christian Ethics, Memphis Theological Seminary; Justin Sledge, Philosophy graduate student at the University of Memphis; Dr. Elena Delavega, Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Memphis; Sidney Chism, Shelby County Board of Commissioners Chairman and District 3 Representative; and Alvin Turner, retired City of Memphis sanitation worker and a 1968 sanitation strike leader.
Workers' Rights Board member Justin Sledge said, "Unfortunately, worker intimidation and abuse is all too common. Multi-billion dollar companies like Republic/Allied are used to being able to treat people however they want. When workers and communities start standing up for themselves, this behavior typically worsens. That is what seems to be the case with Republic, so we have asked several workers to testify today."
This year alone Republic has tried in several cities to bully its workers. In May 2012, Republic/Allied locked out 80 workers in Evansville, Ind., for six weeks, when the workers refused to accept a contract that stripped them of their pension. The company's out-of-town replacement drivers damaged people's homes, cars and even power lines.
In March 2012, Republic/Allied 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.
Last week the Memphis-area Republic/Allied workers protested at informational picketing actions, joining similar actions by nearly 1,000 sanitation workers at 18 other Republic/Allied worksites across the country.
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 more than 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.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter@Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 984