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Kent Allied Waste employees support Alabama picketers
Several Kent Allied Waste/Republic Services employees honored picket lines this morning that were established by striking Teamsters from Alabama.
"We all came out to stand with our brothers and sisters," said Mark Williams, driver at Allied Waste. "We want to get the company's attention so they know they can't walk over their employees and that we stand strong, united."
Known as Republic Services nationally, the company provoked the strike when it violated federal labor law and backed out of a negotiated contract with Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Ala. The company rescinded the agreement because it wanted to impose greater cuts to workers’ health care coverage. Workers in Mobile struck the company on Thursday, March 22. Pickets immediately extended to New York and Ohio before reaching Western Washington last Thursday.
In 2011, Republic earned $8.2 billion in revenues and declared profits of $589 million, up 15 percent per share from 2010, according to the Teamster's website.
The National Labor Relations Board is investigating several labor law violations committed by Republic, including bargaining in bad faith. Mobile’s drivers were set to vote on their tentative contract agreement on Feb. 17. The day before, Republic announced that it was withdrawing the agreement.
“Unfortunately, the situation in Alabama isn’t an isolated case,” said Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division Director Robert Morales in a statement on the union's site. “In the last year, Republic has increasingly tried to intimidate, harass and bully its employees to the detriment of both workers and customers.”
Workers in Ohio and New York claim Republic Services has been demanding pay, health care and retirement concessions since contract negotiations started last year. In Kansas City, Republic Services tried to strip employees of some of their overtime pay.
Contracts for many recycling and yard waste drivers in King County, employed by Allied Waste, expire at the end of May. Contract negotiations between Teamsters Local 117 and the company began on March 27.
"We had to go out there this morning to show support because if we allow this to happen to them, who's to say the same thing won't happen to us when our contracts end in May," Williams said.