Recent Strike By Republic Services Sanitation Workers In Orange County
In November of 2021, over 400 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services at facilities in Anaheim and Huntington Beach voted to authorize a strike against the company. The workers’ contract expired in late September and was followed by multiple contract bargaining sessions.
Workers were concerned about excessive working hours and alleged persistent harassment in the workplace. Members of Teamsters Local 396 called attention to the large pay gap between the CEO and the company’s worker. In 2020, the CEO’s total compensation was over $12 million and 154 times the pay of an average worker. That same year, Republic Services grossed over $10 billion with $1.2 billion in net profit. In addition, the company spent more than $736 million buying back its stock.
Republic Services is the second-largest trash collection, disposal, and landfill company in America, with facilities in over 40 states. More than 7,000 Republic workers nationwide are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Ron Herrera, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396, said, “Teamsters working at Republic Services across Orange County are sending a strong message that they are ready to do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract. Republic Services needs to take negotiations seriously to ensure that these essential heroes who work hard to keep our cities clean and protect our environment get a fair contract.”
The Orange County strike had five members traveling to Republic’s hauling yard in New Orleans and putting up a picket there, while other workers extended the picket line to Republic’s recycling facility in Anaheim.
In December of 2021, more than 450 sanitation workers at Republic Services’ waste hauling yards in Anaheim and Huntington Beach ratified new collective bargaining agreements after a seven-day strike protesting the company’s unilateral changes without bargaining and threatening to retaliate against employees participating in union activity.
According to a press release, the new contracts include significant wage increases and other improvements.
Soon after the new contracts were ratified, more than 250 workers at Republic Services in San Diego went on strike demanding a fair contract.
Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division, said, “The strike in Los Angeles may be over, but Teamster members across America are fed up and will continue to take action until the company stops breaking the law and is willing to bargain fair contracts for these essential workers.”
In these increasingly frequent situations, I am reminded of the Warren Gunnels quote:
“You’re not a failure in life if you work for starvation wages with no benefits. You’re a failure in life if you are a business owner who depends on the exploitation of a poverty-wage workforce, no matter how many yachts and mansions you own. It’s time to redefine success in America”.
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