SEATTLE - Waste Management announced that it is planning residential waste pickups on Wednesday in some cities to avoid impending fines as it begins the process to hire permanent replacement drivers.
“Additional substitute drivers have arrived. I’m pleased to announce that Waste Management is expanding our service recovery efforts to include certain residential areas,” said company spokeswoman Robin Freedman, on the seventh day of the strike sparked by recycle and yard waste drivers.
The cities that will receive residential garbage service include Algona, Auburn, Bothell, Federal Way, Kirkland, Maple Valley, Mill Creek, Redmond, Renton, Seattle and Snoqualmie. At this point, yard waste and recycling will not be picked up.
In Marysville, only residential recycling and yard waste will be picked up.
Freedman said the company would do its best to pick up as much garbage in the cities as they can, but asked customers to remain patient. There is no timeline for when all service will resume for all cities.
Additionally all businesses on commercial garbage routes will be serviced Wednesday if it's their usual pickup day and service should continue as normal on following days.
Freedman said the Teamsters union sent out robo-calls warning that replacement drivers don’t know the roads and that children should watch out for trucks. She said the calls were nothing more than "scare tactics," and that customers should continue to check the Waste Management web site for the latest information.
The spokeswoman said the company believes its package of $98,000 in wages and benefits for recycle and yard waste drivers is fair. She also said that the permanent replacement drivers were identified at job fairs last month or through ads that were posted after the strike began.
The announcement came as the City of Seattle warned the company to resolve the strike or pay large fines, and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn ordered the city's garbage transfer stations to accept trash at no charge from residents affected by the strike.
The city was already cutting $15,000 to $20,000 a day from its payments to Waste Management for the interruption of garbage services.
If garbage is not picked up in Seattle on Wednesday, the company could be fined as much $1.25 million a day.
With other cities that have similar clauses in their contracts, the company could be fined as much as $3 million for each day the service outage continues.