Waste Management and driver’s union reach agreement, service to resume Thursday in Kirkland
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
August 2, 2012 · Updated 2:13 PM
Waste Management and Teamsters Local 117, the union for the company’s truck drivers, reached an unexpected agreement late Wednesday evening. The move put garbage haulers back on Kirkland streets Thursday. The unexpected agreement comes just one day after Waste Management announced that it would hire replacement drivers.
“We are extremely pleased that we reached an agreement on a new contract that delivers a solid compensation package to our hardworking and professional drivers,” said Robin Freedman, spokesperson for Waste Management. “Although regular drivers will be back on their routes (today) it will take time to fully recover from this unfortunate situation. We appreciate the community’s patience during this time.”
City officials cautioned that some collection times may vary from the normal schedule.
"We are very pleased both sides came to an agreement,” said City of Kirkland Solid Waste Programs Lead John MacGillivray. “One week is somewhat tolerable. The second week is too darn much.”
MacGillivray said that city manager Kurt Triplett sent a letter to Waste Management on Tuesday informing the company that the city intended to levy fines against the company for the service disruption. No decision has been made on whether the city will move forward with the fines now that the strike has ended.
MacGillivray said that there was a high level of frustration expressed by Kirkland residents.
“We received a number of phone calls,” said MacGillivray. “I personally answered over 100 calls.”
No details were released about the deal. The drivers voted overwhelmingly in favor, 109-14, for the new six-year contract Thursday in Tukwila.
Waste Management announced that garbage drivers will return to work for Thursday collection routes. However, due to the timing of the ratification vote, recycling and yard waste collection will be limited.
“Teamster drivers work hard and deserve fair compensation for the important work that they perform,” announced Tracey Thompson, Secretary Treasurer for Teamster Local 117. “We are pleased to have negotiated a contract that recognizes the professionalism of our members.”
Many Kirkland residents with regularly scheduled Wednesday morning pickup received an automated phone message from the company that morning. The message told customers that replacement drivers would resume the garbage pickup that day, but garbage service on Wednesday was hit-or-miss in the city.
MacGillivray said the city received many phone calls from residents informing them their trash had still not been picked up.
“It will take time to get all the materials picked up,” said MacGillivray. “There were a number of customers that did not get it picked up Wednesday.”
MacGillivray said for residents with Wednesday pickup to leave their cans out so they can be picked up.
At issue was the contract between the company and its recycle and yard waste collectors. The workers went on strike on July 25. Garbage haulers refused to cross the picket line, resulting in very limited service for Kirkland businesses and no service for residents.
Waste Management delivered its last contract offer to the union on June 6, which proposed wage and benefit increases averaging more than 4 percent per year. Mediation between the union and company ended on June 14, after the parties failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the contract that expired on May 31.
In total, recycling and yard waste drivers service 220,000 customers in the Puget Sound region, including all of Kirkland.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.