On the Picket Line

New Jersey sanitation workers strike is ‘solid’

By Janet Post
February 27, 2023

CAMDEN, N.J. — “Now they’re playing hardball,” Ivan James, Teamsters Local 115 shop steward, told the Militant, describing how Waste Management of New Jersey bosses are conducting their negotiations with the union. 

One hundred thirty sanitation workers at the yard here, on strike since Jan. 31, voted down the latest contract proposal 101-2 Feb. 10. “That shows how unified we are,” James said. 

The union seeks over a 5% wage increase each year over a three-year contract. The company now offers 3% the first year and 2.5% in each of the last two. It took a signing bonus off the table.

The bosses are pushing to increase the percentage workers pay for health care. “In the last 10 years they have gone from 90/10 to 80/20 and now we’re at 70/30, and they want us to pay more,” he said. Management refuses to budge on its demand to turn on video cameras in the truck cabs whenever they want.

“So far we’ve won one thing,” James said, “arbitration for disciplinary matters must be within three months, not nine months to a year like the company wanted.”

In the last few days UPS workers from Lawnside and truckers from Teamsters Local 676 have come by to bring support. Area residents have also visited the pickets to wish them well. If you want to show solidarity, their picket line is up at 1001 Fairview St., here from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week and Sunday mornings. 

The next negotiating session is set for Feb. 17 with a federal mediator. “We’re solid,” James said. “We’ll stay out until Christmas if need be.”