The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 30, 2013

Strike trashes garbage pickup

Collection promised by Sunday

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

SHARPSVILLE, NEW WILMINGTON — This Easter  may not be a sweet smelling one for a number of residents in Ohio and Pennsylvania as a garbage strike has left trash at curbside spilling into the weekend.

Sharpsville and New Wilmington residents are among the estimated 100,000 customers of Republic Services/Allied Waste. Residents of the two communities were among those who found their garbage wasn’t collected as normal Friday morning.

Sanitation workers, members of Teamster Local 377, struck the company’s Carbon Limestone landfill in Lowellville, Ohio, on Thursday.

Union leaders could not be reached by phone. However, in a news release, the Teamsters said sanitation workers at other Republic locations refused to work in a show of support for the strikers. Sanitation drivers in Youngstown honored their co-workers’ picket line at the landfill, the union said, adding workers who are members of other Teamsters locals in Evansville, Ind., and Urbana, Ill., also refused to work at Republic’s landfill.   

Teamsters said the company had engaged in unfair labor practices, was violating federal labor laws and was refusing to bargain in good faith for a new labor contract.

“For more than a year now, Republic has been trying to squeeze every last cent out of their workers by cheating them out of pay, ignoring health and safety protections, raising their health care costs and cutting their retirement benefits,” Ken Hall, Teamsters general secretary-treasurer, said in the news release.

He also said Republic has been bullying workers by locking them out of their jobs without pay, withholding paychecks and demanding contract concessions even though it was earnings hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.

A publicly held company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, in 2012 Republic reported a profit of $571.8 million.

A call to the company’s Youngstown office Friday morning went unreturned.

Ken Robertson, Sharpsville borough manager, said he learned of the strike on Thursday and was frustrated trying to let the community know of the work stoppage.

“The borough office is closed today (Good Friday) and Monday, so the timing couldn’t be worse,’’ Robertson said. “It’s frustrating not to get your garbage picked up, and not know what’s going on.’’

Robertson said residents should continue to leave their trash at curbside as he was promised by a Republic official it would be picked up no later than Sunday afternoon.

“He said they were bringing in other workers from other areas,’’ Robertson said. “They didn’t say who those other workers were.’’

Sharpsville is in its final year of a six-year contract with Republic, he said, adding the contract will expire at the end of August.

Likewise, New Wilmington officials said they were told by Republic the community’s trash would be picked up by Sunday afernoon.