Teamsters and Republic/Allied reach agreements after contentious bargaining and strikes

Members of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, Ohio on August 9 and 10 ratified a new contracts with Republic Services/Allied Waste. Local 377 is one of several Teamster locals recently to reach an agreement with Republic. The company more than a year ago began an aggressive campaign to wrest concessions from its Teamster locals as their contracts came up for renewal.

Teamsters resisted the company’s concession campaign with a series of rolling unfair labor practices strikes in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Washington, and California.

“Our Republic members stood together during difficult times leading up to this point and now we are winning strong contracts,” said Bob Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “We will continue to organize and negotiate the strongest contracts for our members.”

In Youngstown, Republic landfill workers, residential drivers, and commercial drivers and mechanics signed separate contracts that expire at the same time in five years.

“The contracts keep them in a Teamster defined benefit pension plan instead of the company’s 401(k) plan,” said Sam Cook, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 377. “They also get a $2,500 signing bonus followed by a 2-percent wage increase in the second, third and fourth years and a 2.5-percent increase in the fifth and final year.”

Cook also said that the company agreed to pay more toward workers’ health care coverage.

Republic had originally sought to end participation in the Teamsters’ defined benefit pension plan and shift workers into the company’s 401(k) savings plan. It also sought to increase workers’ health care cost.

It made similar proposals when contracts with other Teamster locals came up for renewal.

When members of Local 215 In Evansville, Indiana in 2012 balked at accepting Republic’s concession proposals, the company locked them out for six weeks.

The workers, however, continued to resist the company concession demands and after returning to work, continued to negotiate.

In July, Local 215 announced that its members had ratified a new contract that like the one in Youngstown protects the workers pension and provides a $1 an hour raise for the first year of the new contract and $0.50 an hour raises for each of the next two years of the contract.

Shortly after the contracts in Youngstown and Evansville were ratified, members of Teamster Local 728 in McDonough, Georgia ratified their first contract with Republic. The workers had joined the Teamsters in 2011 after a successful organizing drive, but the company stalled negotiations in hopes that workers would drop their membership in the union.

The McDonough workers in April walked off the job for about three weeks in an unfair labor practices strike.

In March, the Youngstown Teamsters also conducted an unfair labor practices strike when Republic illegally changed working conditions without bargaining and refused to provide the union with information related to the ongoing bargaining over a new contract.

Shortly after the strike began, the Youngstown workers set up picket lines at Republic facilities in Urbana, Illinois and Evansville. Teamsters at the two facilities refused to cross the picket line disrupting the company’s service commitments.

The Youngstown pickets then travelled to other Republic facilities in the Midwest and the West Coast where Teamsters showed their solidarity with fellow union members by refusing to cross picket lines.

“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,” said Morales in April as the Youngstown pickets were shutting down Republic operations in the Midwest and West Coast.

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