On Day 7, garbage strike expands as trash piles up



SEATTLE - The union for striking recycle and yard waste trucks in the Seattle-Everett area has extended a picket line to a Waste Management facility in Burlington.


Teamsters Local 117 said about 37 garbage, yard waste and recycle haulers represented by Local 231 are refusing to cross the picket line.


Picketers said their number one goal is getting back to the negotiating table with Waste Management, but they do not want to take down their picket lines in order to do that, a condition that Waste Management has required so far.


  Previously, recycle and yard waste drivers said they wanted pay equal to what garbage drivers get, but now, that goal may have changed.


 “At this point in time, getting a contract equal with the garbage drivers is probably something that we're not looking for,” said striking driver Brent Barrett.


 Barrett said the drivers will settle for what recycle and yard waste drivers make at Allied Waste and Cleanscapes, which is less than the compensation garbage drivers get.


 The Teamsters Union would not confirm or deny that the demands have changed.


Meanwhile, Waste Management said it is bringing in more replacement drivers on day 7 of the strike. The company said they'll focus on commercial customers, such as restaurants. Most residential customers are being told to wait for their next pickup day. The company said it will pick up a double load then.


Waste Management said the replacement drivers are focusing on residential collection during the day and commercial accounts at night.


“You'll see double the amount of drivers on the road today than you saw yesterday, and we're going to be really hammering on commercial routes,” said Robin Freedman with Waste Management.


Union representatives claim the fill-in drivers are not doing the work correctly and have been mixing trash with recyclable materials in commercial areas and are rushing so Waste Management won’t incur fines.


“We do recycling better than just about anybody in the country, and so when you bring folks in from Texas and Arizona and other places around the country that don’t do recycling the way we do, I’m sure it just looks like another bag of garbage to them,” said Brenda Wiest with Teamsters Local 117.


There are also questions as to whether trucks are over safe weight limits.


Even with the replacement drivers, most residential customers won't get their trash picked up on Tuesday.


Crews are focusing on pickup in Renton because garbage is collected there every other week.


 If the strike does not end before Wednesday, it could prove to be very costly for Waste Management.


The City of Seattle has warned the company to resolve the strike or pay.


The city is already cutting $15,000 to $20,000 a day from its payments to Waste Management for the interruption of garbage services.


Then starting Wednesday, the company could be fined as much $1,250,000 a day.


With other cities that have similar clauses in their contracts, the company could be fined  $3 million for each day the strike continues.