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UPDATED: Waste Management Workers Ratify Contract, End Seattle Strike

Article-UPDATED: Waste Management Workers Ratify Contract, End Seattle Strike

Teamsters workers have ratified a six-year contract with Waste Management Inc. ending a strike that began July 25.

The Washington-based Teamsters said in a news release that with Local 117 approving the contract, Teamsters service would resume in King and Snohomish counties later today. Two other locals that struck in support of the union, trash truck drivers of Locals 174 and Skagit County workers with Local 231, were back on the job, the Teamsters said.

The Houston-based Waste Management said in a statement: "Waste Management is pleased that Local 117 voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying our six-year contract.  Waste Management garbage drivers returned to work today and are servicing their regular Thursday collection routes. However, due to the timing of the ratification vote, our recycling and yard waste collection will be limited today."

The company said in a news release  late on Aug. 1 that it reached a tentative accord with Local 117 on a contract, pending a vote by the union.

 “We are extremely pleased that we reached an agreement on a new contract that delivers a solid compensation package to our hardworking and professional drivers,” said Robin Freedman, communications for Waste Management in Kirkland, Wash.

“We are pleased to have negotiated a contract that recognizes the professionalism of our members,” said Tracey Thompson, secretary-treasurer for Local 117.

Waste Management was facing fines by the city of Seattle for the missed service because of the strike. In a news release Mayor Mike McGinn said Aug. 1 that the city would begin assessing possible fines of as much as $1.25 million per day.

 “This service disruption is creating a hardship for residents and businesses, and we expect Waste Management to fulfill their contract,” McGinn said.

Waste Management had begun seeking permanent replacement workers that could have started immediately, Freedman said earlier in an interview.  She says the company also ran recruiting ads and got more than 250 applications. The company had to go with replacement workers because of the stoppage, she added, and she could not say how many replacement workers Waste Management was going to hire.

Freedman says depending on the day about 220,000 customers were affected by the strike.

Aug. 1 was the first day Waste Management did residential waste pickup, using other existing Waste Management workers, Freedman says. The company was able to service about 10 cities.

Freedman said previously that the company made their best contract offer in early June, and the union didn’t vote on the proposal. It would have increased the average worker’s salary from $58,000 to $68,000 by the end of the six-year contract, with a total compensation value of $98,000.

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