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UPDATED: Teamsters and Sims Municipal Recycling Reach Unionization Agreement

The signed agreement sets an election for today and commits Sims to remain neutral. The agreement will be enforced by an independent arbitrator.

Teamsters Local 210 reached an agreement with Sims Municipal Recycling on an expedited path to union recognition at its Sunset Park facility in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The signed agreement set an election for Friday and committed Sims to remain neutral. The agreement will be enforced by an independent arbitrator.

On Friday afternoon, workers at the plant voted 46 to 20 in favor of joining the union.

Next, the workers will develop their contract demands and, with union negotiators, begin talks with Sims management on a collective bargaining agreement. The union also plans to set up an interim grievance procedure to protect workers in any disciplinary action.

The agreement reached on Thursday stipulated that Sims would not attempt to influence the vote through any “speeches, one-on-one meetings, distribution of literature, organized get-out-the-vote campaigns, or other activities intended to influence the free choice of the employees.” The company also agreed to allow workers to wear stickers expressing their position and to allow union organizers access to the facility.

Sims released a statement on the agreement:

“We are pleased that we were able to reach agreement with Teamsters Local 210 for an immediate vote on whether or not to have union representation at the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility in Brooklyn. As we have said many times, we respect the right of our employees to unionize if they so choose. We particularly appreciate the role of the New York City Council in helping to make this vote a reality on an accelerated timetable. We remain firmly committed to providing a workplace that epitomizes Sims’ core values of safety, integrity and respect for all.”

According to a Daily News report, wages at the facility start at $14 and can go up to more than $20 with special skills.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his support of the unionization effort.

Earlier this week, the workers who sort and process all of New York City's residential recycling rallied outside City Hall ahead of a City Council hearing on a potential strike at the Sims Municipal Recycling in Sunset Park and attended a hearing titled "The Potential for a Work Stoppage at Sims Metal Management and its Potential Impact on Residential Recycling," which was held by the City Council Sanitation Committee. 

At the hearing and rally, the plant’s workers pushed to unionize with Teamsters Local 210, calling on Sims to bargain a contract. And today, after reaching an agreement, the workers will vote on unionization and Sims will remain neutral.

Prior to the rally and hearing, the plant’s 70 workers informed company management in December 2016 that a majority had signed union authorization cards with Teamers Local 210, but they say Sims has refused to bargain a contract. The workers also filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board alleging a union-busting campaign by management that included threats and retaliation against union supporters.

“We stood our ground and fought for a fair process, free of intimidation, and now we have it,” Jordy Lopez, a Sims recycling worker and leader in the union organizing drive, said in a statement. “We are excited to vote tomorrow and look forward to bargaining a contract that ensures respect and good jobs for Sims workers and are humbled by the support we have received.”

“These workers showed that when you stick together, you win,” said George Miranda, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 210 in a statement. “At a time when immigrant workers across the country are under attack, it is inspiring to see Sims workers standing up for themselves and getting justice. This is a notice to other New York City sanitation companies that workers will have a real voice on the job and be free of employer intimidation.”

The Brooklyn facility processes all of the residential recycling collected by the New York City Department of Sanitation.

Correction: March 03, 2017
The story was updated to include information on the outcome of the unionization vote.
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