News

Strike by garbage collectors hinging on talks

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

Garbage-collection drivers who serve a large part of south King County, including Federal Way, may have avoided a possible strike by reaching a tentative settlement with their employer, but contract negotiations are continuing.

Representatives of Waste Management of Washington and Teamsters Local 174 agreed to meet yesterday and April 14 in efforts to reach “an overall resolution,” said Jerry Hardebeck, director of public sector services for Waste Management.

Union officials couldn’t be reached for comment in this article before The Mirror’s deadline yesterday morning for its print edition. Updates will be posted in the on-line edition at www.fedwaymirror.com.

Late last week, the two sides reached a tentative agreement on hours and overtime for a new contract. The old contract expired last Friday.

Negotiations have been underway for several weeks. The drivers have threatened to strike if a settlement isn’t reached.

If a strike occurs, Waste Management “has contingency plans and resources in place to collect garbage from our residential and commercial customers,” Hardebeck said.

The company has about 16,000 residential customers in Federal Way and approximately 3,000 living between Federal Way and Auburn. Waste Management also serves Algona and Pacific, plus other areas in King County (including Seattle) and Snohomish County.

Teamsters Local 174 represents 300 Waste Management drivers. The union staged a “solidarity celebration” last Friday at the Teamster Hall in Tukwila.

Hardebeck said Waste Management is seeking a contract “that would keep our employees the highest paid sanitation drivers” in Washington and provide “competitive” benefits.

In separate contract negotiations, Local 174 also represents drivers for Allied Waste, the garbage-collection firm that serves Des Moines.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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