By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
It may get a little harder to smell the sweet scents of spring in Sharpsville and New Wilmington. Both communities have been told their regular garbage pickup will be delayed due to a strike.
Union workers at Republic Services/Allied Waste near Youngstown went back on strike earlier this week which has affected regular trash pickups.
Members of Teamsters Local 377, representing 23 sanitation workers, on March 27 struck Allied’s Carbon Limestone landfill in Lowellville, Ohio. Union leaders said the company wasn’t bargaining in good faith for a new labor contract and was intimidating workers.
Workers returned to their jobs after Easter and negotiations resumed but soon reached an impasse.
Sharpsville and New Wilmington have contracts with Republic for garbage removal services. Some Brookfield residents use the company’s services on an individual basis.
Allied notified New Wilmington that residents’ trash will not get picked today, said Sharon Edmiston, borough administrator and treasurer.
“They said it will be Friday or Saturday before trash is collected,’’ Edmiston said.
Sharpsville’s normal pickup day is Friday, but Wednesday afternoon Borough Manager Ken Robertson got word from the company the pickup will be delayed until Monday.
“I’m not happy about this,’’ Robertson said. “There’s no pickup this week.’’
Replacement workers Republic hired will reach their weekly maximum work hours by Saturday, Robertson said he was told by the company.
Robertson said the company also told him it couldn’t promise residents’ recyclables would be collected Monday.
Republic officials have failed to respond to repeated attempts for comment. A recorded message at the company’s Youngstown office said Wednesday the strike was continuing and that Republic was making every effort to serve customers.
The strike affects about 100,000 Republic customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Among the Teamsters’ complaints is a company proposal to change pensions to a 401(k) program and that Republic was 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 other insurance options.
Picket lines were extended to six other Republic locations in Ohio cities: Youngstown, Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland. Republic sites in other states such as Georgia and Tennessee also have seen pickets.