Trash and recycling pick-up has resumed in Seattle, Bellevue, Lynnwood, and surrounding areas following the end of a nearly week-long worker stoppage by Republic Services sanitation workers. Over 300 Washington-based workers refused to work from Jan. 12 until Jan. 18 in support of an unfair labor practice strike by Republic Services workers in San Diego County, California.
With the disruption of services in the last few weeks due to inclement weather, the worker stoppage meant that some members of the community were not able to have their trash or recycling collected since mid-December. Although they did not wish to upset members of the community, Washington Republic Services workers felt that they had no choice but to join the strike to show their company that their workers were serious about their demands to end unsafe workplace practices. Republic Services did organize temporary sites for residents who wished to drive up and drop off their trash and recycling on their own time.
The California strike began on Dec. 17 and involved more than 250 sanitation workers walking off the job, demanding the company end its mistreatment of workers and provide adequate compensation for their work. The strike lasted 32 days until a contract was negotiated that included increased wages and benefits for the San Diego County workers. The labor dispute did not affect Washington employees, however, the picket line extended to the Seattle area to bring attention to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is local to the area and Republic Service’s largest shareholder.