Garbage service returns to normal

September 6, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Newcastle garbage service returned to normal after Teamsters Local 117 voted to accept a new contract with Waste Management on Aug. 2.

The agreement effectively ended a weeklong strike that disrupted garbage and recycling removal for commercial and residential customers in the Puget Sound area.

In Newcastle, City Manager Rob Wyman said the city was prepared in case the strike went on a week longer.

“There was a lot going on behind the scenes to try and get Waste Management to settle,” he said. “If it had gone the rest of that week, the week that they ultimately settled, we had some plans in place to set up mobile recycling and garbage drop-offs.”

Newcastle residents saw their garbage pile up during the strike. Recycling, in particular, accumulated as the heart of the strike fell on a collection week. Waste Management collects garbage weekly, but recycling is collected every other week in Newcastle.

Wyman said he understood residents’ frustration over the lack of garbage and recycling collection.

“There are certain things that get everybody upset and that’s one of them,” he said. “People get worked up over that and rightfully so, it’s a basic service. I’m just thankful it got settled when it did. I know it was a major inconvenience for a lot of people.”

As Waste Management worked to catch up with the missed collections, residents received double load pickups at no additional cost.

Waste Management provides the city of Newcastle with curbside collection of garbage, recycling and yard/food waste for residents and local businesses. Teamsters Local 117 represents about 16,500 workers at more than 200 employers throughout the Puget Sound area.

Waste Management recycling and yard waste truck drivers went on strike over wage and benefits issues July 25.

King County leaders were pleased an agreement was made between Waste Management and the workers.

“I’m pleased to see that both sides have worked towards a tentative agreement and that Waste Management has responded to the call of the county and cities to reach resolution quickly for the benefit of its customers and our residents,” County Executive Dow Constantine said. “I’ve always felt that when two sides bargain in good faith they can reach a fair and equitable resolution.”

County Council President Larry Gossett said the agreement benefited Waste Management and the drivers.

“The contract ratified by Teamsters Local 117 benefits the company, recycle and yard waste drivers and most importantly, the customers who receive their garbage and recycling services from the employees,” he said in a statement. “I want to applaud the recycle and yard waste drivers and the Teamsters Local 117 in their efforts to achieve a fair contract and preserving their livable wage jobs.”

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