Teamster-backed sanitation worker strike continues in Western Washington

Jan 18, 2022, 5:33 AM | Updated: 2:24 pm
garbage, strike...
Workers collect garbage in a snowy Seattle neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities/Twitter)

Sanitation workers employed by Republic Services in Seattle, Bellevue, Lynnwood and Kent continue to strike as of Tuesday morning.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents workers from Republic Services, declared on Friday that their picket lines would extend north into Western Washington following a strike in San Diego that began Dec. 17. Their labor actions in Washington state honor the picket lines in San Diego, but are not indicative of a contract dispute with Republic Services in the Seattle area.

The Teamsters represent more than 300 sanitation workers currently on strike in Washington state.

“The equipment is sitting here, and our members are ready to go if the company will bargain fairly for a good contract,” wrote Jaime Vasquez, a spokesperson for Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego, in a news release.

“When the trash piles up, that hurts our communities, and the neighborhoods that our members live in, too. This doesn’t have to be happening – in our opinion, the County should look into whether it can declare a state of emergency and take over Republic Services’ equipment,” Vasquez continued. “Our members would be happy to work for the County directly and go back to providing this public service to everyone.”

Republic Services administers residential recycling, yard waste, and garbage collection for dozens of Washington municipalities, including Bellevue, Auburn, Kent, Renton, Lynnwood, Monroe, Edmonds, as well as recycling for Seattle.

The strike compounds the existing problem of delayed garbage collection brought on by a snowstorm that hit the Seattle area in late December. As a result, trash services were delayed by several weeks for some municipalities.

Seattle-area trash service could be delayed longer due to out-of-state strike

Republic Services is the second largest trash collection and landfill corporation in the United States. They employ nearly 40,000 people across 41 states. The Teamsters represent 7,000 Republic Services workers throughout the nation. They are currently under contract negotiations in San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, Richmond, Seattle, and New Orleans.

Republic Services has announced the opening of some trash drop-off collection centers in locations such as Bellevue.

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Teamster-backed sanitation worker strike continues in Western Washington