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Garbage Haulers End Strike; Contract Talks to Resume

Liz Jones

Garbage haulers are back on the job in the Seattle area this morning. The union workers went on strike Wednesday, after contract talks had reached an impasse.


The union's negotiations with employer Waste Management have centered on benefits and compensation. The company says its five–year contract would eventually lead to a total compensation package of more than $100,000 for each employee.

Michael Gonzales is a spokesman for local union 174. He says that salary amount is inflated and doesn't include any of the benefit reductions in the contract.

Gonzales: "I can just tell the community right now, these members, at this moment, make $26.00 an hour, roughly. It comes out to about $54,000 a year. These guys have good middle–class jobs. That's what we bargain for — is to make sure that their wages, their benefits, their retirements and their working conditions stay in that middle–class level and could hopefully get higher."

Gonzales blames the two–day strike on Waste Management's illegal tactics and earlier refusal to negotiate.

Waste Management and the union have agreed to resume negotiations Monday with a federal mediator. The old contract expired at the end of last month.

Waste Management hauls trash for about a million residents in King and Snohomish counties.

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