WASHINGTON, April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, 23 workers at Republic Services' landfill in Youngstown, Ohio returned to work after an unfair labor practice strike that began on March 27, 2013.
"We never wanted to go on strike, but Republic's behavior has been so abusive we had no choice," said John Overly, a worker at Republic's Youngstown landfill. "As we extended picket lines to other cities, the workers there told us of very similar patterns of intimidation and harassment at their facilities.
"We care about the communities we live and work in. We don't like seeing the trash piling up and our neighbors being upset at the filth. That's why we're going back to work – for now – because we really want to clean up our neighborhoods," Overly said. "We are hoping Republic will be willing to make right all the wrongs they have done to us and to workers and communities all over the country."
Robert Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division, made it clear that Republic Services had established a pattern of behavior that went beyond Youngstown.
"These strikes have been about this company breaking the law. Republic's tactics of intimidation and law-breaking are not limited to Youngstown, Ohio – they are occurring in many other cities and that pattern of behavior goes back years," Morales said. "If the company won't fix its illegal actions and continues to refuse to treat its workers with respect, then I can promise you the Teamsters will respond, and we will respond hard.
"The show of solidarity from our members across the country has been amazing - in fact unprecedented - and should serve as a wake-up call to Republic," Morales said.
"Republic has spent more time talking with the media than with Teamsters Local Union bargaining representatives over the past few weeks," said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer. "Contrary to Republic's assertions that the single issue is a pension, there are many issues that need to be addressed - as evidenced by the support striking workers from Youngstown received by members of so many other Teamsters Local Unions.
"I've urged the company to come back to the table over the next two to three weeks and resolve all outstanding issues, including the pension. If the company wants to back up its words that its true objective is looking out for the best interests of its employees, rather than slashing benefits, then the company must negotiate in good faith with Teamsters Local Unions.
"Out of respect for their communities and the customers they serve, our members chose to suspend the strike – I hope their act of good faith is matched by Republic's good faith at the bargaining table," Hall said.
The striking landfill workers, members of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, have been exercising their right under federal law to strike over Republic's illegal actions in the workplace and during contract negotiations.
These workers also exercised their legal right to ask for support from other sanitation workers at Republic locations. Over the past 3 weeks, members of Teamsters Local 377 extended picket lines from the landfill to other Republic facilities in Youngstown, Cleveland, Elyria, Columbus and Canton, Ohio; and Erie, Mich. Picket line extensions and work stoppages also occurred in Urbana, Ill.; Evansville, Ind.; Daly City, Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Fremont, Fairfield, Anaheim and Sun Valley, Calif.; and in Seattle, Kent/SeaTac, Bellevue and Lynnwood, Wash. Thousands of Teamster members at more than 20 facilities refused to work in a show of support for the striking workers.
Republic workers in McDonough, GA who are members of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta have also been on an unfair labor practice strike against Republic. They also suspended their strike and returned to work today as a show of good faith to the company.
Republic Services/Allied Waste's total revenues were more than $8.1 billion in 2012, with profits of $572 million. The company's primary shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the 2nd-richest person in the world. Gates owns approximately $2.4 billion worth of stock, or 25 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates' investment manager, sits on Republic's board of directors.