The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 16, 2013

Trash workers pick up picket signs again

Republic/Allied strike resumes

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

BROOKFIELD, SHARPSVILLE, NEW WILMINGTON — Hang onto your garbage containers.

Union workers at Republic Services/Allied Waste near Youngstown went back on strike, with other Ohio sites affected.

Members of Teamsters Local 377, representing 23 sanitation workers, struck the company’s Carbon Limestone landfill in Lowellville, Ohio, Monday morning. Local 377 went on strike March 27, just before Easter, to protest what union leaders said was the company’s lack of good faith in bargaining for a new labor contract and its intimidation of workers.

Workers returned to work after Easter and labor negotiations resumed.

Like the last strike, this one affects about 100,000 Republic customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including residents of Brookfield, Sharpsville and New Wilmington.  

If this latest strike lasts, it could affect regular trash pickup this morning for Allied customers in Brookfield.

Customers in Sharpsville and New Wilmington normally have their garbage picked up on Friday. Those two communities have contracted with Republic for trash-hauling services for all their residents. Brookfield residents choose their providers.

Sharpsville and New Wilmington residents saw their regular trash pickup delayed by a day during the last strike and their recycling pickup by at least two days. The company used replacement workers during the strike.

Contacted Monday morning, Ken Robertson, Sharpsville borough manager, said he wasn’t aware of the latest strike. Last Tuesday a Republic representative told Sharpsville council that the company had not resolved issues with employees, Robertson said.

“But he gave no indication of what you’re telling me now about this” strike, Robertson said. “It’s unfortunate, I don’t like hearing that.’’

During the last strike, the borough worked with Republic to locate customers who were missed by replacement workers. Regardless of this new strike, Robertson said the borough will still hold the company accountable to its contract, which expires in August. He planned to contact the company to review pickup routes.

“When we throw out something, we want it picked up,’’ Robertson said. “There are more pressing issues that I would rather deal with.’’

A message left for a Republic manager in Youngstown wasn’t immediately returned Monday. Allied’s automated answering service acknowledged the strike was under way and said the company was making every effort to see that its customers’ waste would be collected.

 New Wilmington was notified by the company about the strike Monday morning, said Sharon Edmiston, borough council administrator and treasurer.

“They said they were not looking for this to be a long strike,’’ Edmiston said. “Our collection may be delayed by a day, if that.’’

During the last strike, Teamsters workers in other Republic sites, such as Evansville, Ind., and Urbana, Ill., took to picket lines in a show of support for workers in Youngstown.

This time, Teamsters said picket lines were extended to six Republic locations in five Ohio cities: Youngstown, Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland. Also on Monday, about 40 sanitation workers employed by Republic went on strike in McDonough, Ga., over their labor contract.

Among the complaints by Teamsters are a company proposal to transfer retirement benefits into a 401(k) program and Republic taking up to $140 a month out of workers’ paychecks for health insurance “tobacco’’ or “spouse’’ surcharges, even if the worker doesn’t smoke or their spouses have no other insurance options, the Teamsters said in a news release.