Kent seeks refunds for missed trash pickups as collection resumes for Western Washington

Jan 18, 2022, 3:42 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2022, 7:18 am
A truck collects garbage from a Seattle neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities/Twitter)

Republic Services and Teamsters 542, whose sanitation and trash collection workers from the San Diego area have been on strike since mid-December, have ratified a new contract, settling a dispute over allegations of unfair labor practices.

The strike extended north into the Seattle area where Republic Services sanitation workers throughout the region “honored the picket line” in solidarity with Teamsters 542, a spokesperson from Teamsters Local 174 based out of Tukwila told MyNorthwest.

Garbage, recycling, and yard waste service has been impacted by the strike since Jan. 14 in Seattle, Bellevue, Lynnwood, and Kent. The labor action caught the Seattle region at the tail end of service disruption brought on by a snow and ice storm in late December, resulting in trash service left uncollected for weeks in some cities.

Teamster-backed sanitation worker strike continues in Western Washington

With the approval of the new contract, collections will continue as normal, and there are no current labor disputes with Republic Services in Washington state. However, some Western Washington cities are looking for monetary compensation for the service interruption.

“We are in negotiations with Republic Services,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph told KIRO Newsradio’s Dori Monson Show.

“The city has a liquidated damages clause in the contract. Our ask is that they directly refund customers instead of the city seeking those damages, because they haven’t fulfilled the contract,” she said. “So our goal is to get refunds directly into the customers’ hands as a result of this trash not being picked up.”

Ralph confirmed that citizens of Kent will “likely receive a credit on their bill” for services not rendered, and “as we figure out what the [reimbursement] process looks like, we’ll be pushing it out on all of our social media channels.”

San Diego’s Teamster strike lasted 32 days in total. Their new contract provides wage increases and health care insurance improvements.

The Teamsters represent roughly 300 workers in Washington state employed by Republic Services.

“Ultimately, we learned a lot through this experience,” wrote a spokesperson for Teamsters Local 542 in a news release.

“We didn’t achieve everything we set out to achieve, but we learned so much that nobody can take away from us. The community outpouring of support was absolutely amazing. And we got support from all over America, especially in Seattle where our brothers and sisters made a huge sacrifice to support our fight.”

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Kent seeks refunds for missed trash pickups as collection resumes for Western Washington