Union workers at one of Southern California’s largest trash collection companies are threatening to walk off their jobs as a strike on the East Coast gathers national support.
Workers at an Anaheim trash processing facility run by Republic Services voted overwhelmingly Saturday to authorize its leadership to call a strike, said Adan Alvarez, communications director for Covina-based Local 396, a Teamsters affiliate. The Anaheim workers’ contract expires Monday, Sept. 30, Alvarez said.
If workers strike, it likely would shut down work at Republic Services’ material recovery facility on North Blue Gum Street in Anaheim and affect trash pickup at thousands of businesses and residences in Orange and Los Angeles counties. A Teamsters local in San Jose also voted Saturday to authorize a strike.
A spokesperson for Republic Services in Anaheim declined to comment.
The dispute began with a strike of Teamsters at a company facility in Marshfield, Mass., that started in late August. Two weeks later, a number of striking Massachusetts workers started picketing at other locations across the country, including Anaheim, San Diego, Chula Vista and San Jose. Other demonstrations were held in Georgia and Indiana.
“Our members did not picket, but some members refused to cross the lines,” Alvarez said. “I don’t know how much, but I imagine it did create delays.”Related Articles
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Alvarez said Local 396 represents more than a thousand workers employed by Republic Services in Southern California. The company has extensive operations in Los Angeles, Anaheim and other cities. He said there was no timetable as to when union leaders might ask workers to strike.
Workers are seeking better pay and benefits, along with contract language that guarantees job protections. A union leader from San Jose said in a statement that the company is trying to nullify job protections gained in past contracts.
Nationally the company has 7,000 employees who are Teamsters members. “They’re the second-largest waste-hauler in the United States,” Alvarez said.
Republic Services is a publicly-traded company. The company earned $10 billion in revenues in 2018 and $1 billion in profits, according to the company’s end-of-year earnings report.
“Rather than investing those profits into higher wages or new trucks, Republic Services spent more than $736 million buying back its own stock,” a union statement reads on its website.
According to stock analysis from Zach’s Equity Research, Phoenix-based Republic Services had about $900 million available for stock repurchases as of June 30. Also, earlier this year the company raised its dividend rate 8%, to 40.5 cents per share.
Southern California has seen a number of strike calls in recent months from a variety of industries including healthcare workers, airline employees and the largest grocery union in the region. In most cases, workers are seeking wage hikes, better benefits and pension guarantees.
A Kaiser union announced recently it would strike Oct. 14, affecting thousands of employees and customers and facilities across California. On Sept. 12, the union representing some 60,000 grocery store employees ratified a new contract that includes raises, benefits and a pension obligation.