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Vol. 77/No. 18      May 13, 2013

Sanitation workers strike over
hours, pay, ‘respect’

MCDONOUGH, Ga. — “We want a fair wage, to be treated with respect, and to cut down some of the hours we have to work, sometimes between 12 and 15 hours a day,” Terry Robertson told the Militant on the picket line at Republic Services Inc. here April 19.

The 40 drivers, helpers and mechanics, members of Teamsters Local 278, went on strike April 15 and returned to work April 22 after the company agreed to continue negotiating. The workers joined the Teamsters in 2011, but do not have a contract.

They were protesting the company’s firing of a worker and moves to stop paying drivers for time spent returning their trucks to the yard. Several workers talked about working with unsafe trucks and equipment.

“They want to cut our pay and ignore seniority,” driver Mondrez Flemister said. “We just need one big fist,” he said, referring to the unity workers need to meet the employers’ anti-union assaults.

In a news release, Local 728 President Randy Brown reported the McDonough workers have not had a wage increase in four years.

Over the last year or so, workers at a number of Republic Services facilities across the country have either been fighting for union recognition or involved in contract disputes. Republic is the second largest waste collection company in the U.S. with 30,000 employees at 800 locations.

Several workers said they took an unpaid day off to march in the sanitation workers contingent at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Atlanta Jan. 21, along with other Republic workers from Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama.

More than 70 DeKalb County sanitation workers attended an April 9 County Commission meeting to press the demand of 411 workers who have petitioned for Teamster union recognition.

Recent strikes at several locations across the country began March 27 after workers at Republic’s landfill in Youngstown, Ohio, walked off the job. Like the strike here, workers in Youngstown returned to work April 22. According to Teamster Nation, thousands of Teamsters in 25 cities across the country had honored picket lines either in solidarity with the Youngstown strike or around local issues over the last several weeks.

Workers at Republic facilities in Memphis, Tenn., were still on strike as of April 22, Teamster Nation reported.
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