Locked-out Bay Area Garbage Workers Prepare to Picket

Hundreds of San Francisco Bay area trash collectors formed picket lines Tuesday after they were locked-out from their jobs and replaced with non-union workers in a contract dispute, according to labor organizers.

Waste Management of Alameda County told garbage truck drivers and other workers represented by Teamsters Local 70 not to report to work starting Monday evening following the breakdown of negotiations. The company and the union have been at odds over how
workers are disciplined for safety violations.

"This company ... has taken a brazen and bold action that insults and inconveniences this community for the sake of corporate greed," said Chuck Mack, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 70.

In a statement, Waste Management said it had to bring in substitute drivers to make sure garbage pickups remain uninterrupted. The Alameda County arm of the company provides trash pickups in many of the suburbs east of San Francisco.

James Devlin, Waste Management's area vice president, said that once the current contract expired on June 30, the Teamsters could have called a surprise strike that would have left garbage bins overflowing and posed a health hazard.

"It's unfortunate that Local 70 is unwilling to even discuss a new contract that balances the needs of or employees, customers and our communities," Devlin said.

According to Waste Management, salaries for union-represented drivers are more than $75,000 a year.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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