Waste Management Strike Over 'Mistreatment' of Immigrants Lasts Five Hours

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    FILE ART - Waste Managements

    Hundreds of Waste Management employees at cities throughout  Alameda County went on strike Friday morning to protest what they claim is a  violation of federal labor laws and abuse of employee rights.

    The strike, held at Waste Management facilities in Oakland, San  Leandro and Altamont, began at about 3 a.m. and included landfill, customer  service and recycling workers, and lasted for just five hours.

    Workers decided to strike because they said the company violated  federal law by threatening and intimidating employees, implementing workplace  policies without bargaining with the International Longshore and Warehouse  Union and mistreating immigrant workers, according to union spokesman Craig  Merrilees.

    Merrilees said that the immigrant workers made a strong point to  the company that they would not be bullied. Workers filed formal charges  against Waste Management with the National Labor Relations Board on  Wednesday, he said.

    At 8 a.m., the 200-plus workers on strike went back to work,  Merrilees said.
    Residential waste and recycling pickup service in Alameda County  will continue as scheduled and any interrupted service will be completed on  Saturday, Waste Management spokesman David Tucker said.

    Merrilees said he believes the strike was an overall success.

    "Any time a group of workers stand united to make a point to a  powerful company, it is a sign that democracy is alive and well in America,"  he said. "No company should be above the law."

    The strike was not about negotiations in a collective bargaining  agreement, Merrilees said. It was about the workers telling the company they  won't tolerate what they consider threats, firings and intimidation anymore,  he said.

    In 2012, Tucker said an internal audit discovered four employees  without proper documentation for employment. They were asked to provide  documentation and, after about six months, three employees did not provide  documentation and were terminated, he said.

    "No one is being targeted. No one is being singled out. It's the  guidance that we have, it's employment law," Tucker said. "To make a case  this is a widespread epidemic is unfounded."

    Waste Management and the union's Local 6 have been working on a  new contract with the aid of a federal mediator, according to Tucker. The two  sides last met on Monday.