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Trash service disruptions prompt Snohomish to re-examine contract with Republic Services

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Trash and recycling was not collected in the cities of Snohomish or Monroe half of last week as Republic Services workers unionized under Teamsters Local 117 in Washington state honored a picket line set by colleagues in California. 
In the San Diego area, sanitation collectors for Teamsters Local 542 have been on strike against Republic Services since Dec. 17. On Jan. 12, the San Diego Teamsters union extended the picket lines to Republic Services’ hubs in Western Washington state.
“Local 117 members have a contractual right to honor their picket lines in solidarity with the striking workers. Since the pickets were established on Wednesday (Jan. 12), one hundred percent of our members have chosen to honor those lines,” Local 117 communications director Paul Zilly said by email.
The city of Snohomish now will be looking at how to reopen its contract with the company.
“Republic Services garbage pick-up has been impacted by previous snow storms and current union strike,” city administrator Steve Schuller said in a Jan. 14 statement by email. “Mayor Linda Redmon has directed staff to assertively work with Republic to restore service, and in addition, to bring back current provisions in the long-term agreement with Republic for evaluation by Council. There have been a number of complaints, and the current service level is unacceptable.”
He added that the city supports the workers’ right to strike.
The city of Snohomish is contracted with Republic Services to April 1, 2024. The city’s current contract from 2017, reviewed by the Tribune, has a clause that requires Republic Services to resume services as soon as five business days from the day after the start of a labor disruption, and to collect garbage from all weekly customers affected by the labor dispute as soon as Saturday. It is not required to “refund” customers for the missed days, according to the contract.
Monroe renewed its contract last year to go through the end of 2024. Monroe’s contract has a similar clause, and requires Republic to collect as soon as possible on the next workday, including Saturday.
Everett does not use exclusive trash service contracts.
For some residents, things piled up as the missed days came right after recent snow restrictions where trash was not collected for upward of two weeks.
The company said in a statement it is working to restore local services, but did not answer questions on how it will do so. 
In the statement to the Tribune, Republic Services’ said by email that: “We are taking the steps necessary to minimize service disruptions, and we thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we work to resolve this temporary issue.”
The company told customers in automated calls that it will pick up double loads this week.
Asked why people affected locally should care about the San Diego strike, Teamsters Local 117’s Zilly replied pointing out the company earned $1.2 billion in revenue during 2020 and that the San Diego contract dispute with Republic could have been resolved long ago. 
It made $967 million in net profit in 2020, company income statements state.
The company’s total 2021 financial report is not yet public yet.
In the third quarter of 2021, Republic repurchased $123 million in stock shares, reported an analyst with the stock investment research provider CFRA Research.
The Tribune does not know what the San Diego Teamsters are requesting in their contract dispute.
"It’s unfortunate that Republic Services is more concerned with lining the pockets of corporate millionaires than prioritizing essential, frontline workers and the communities they serve," Zilly wrote by email.

Michael Whitney / 360-568-4121




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