Members of Teamsters local 542, a union local representing sanitation workers in southern California, did not expect that the strike that they initiated in early December would last long, according to a report by Jesse Marx for Voice of San Diego. At least one member said in that report that they expected the strike to be resolved by the new year.
Their strike ended up lasting well into this month. Republic Services, the employer of local 542 members, dug in their heels for contract negotiations and did not concede to increased pay or benefits with each passing offer. Camaraderie and light feelings on the picket line turned to concern as workers envisioned the prospects of a protracted negotiation.
As a backlog of trash started to fill the streets of the city, Republic upped the pressure to get union members back on the job. According to Marx’s report, one district manager for Republic sent a letter to the union this weekend, stating that “the company will begin the process of reducing routes and laying off employees if our employees continue to refuse to return to work”.
The contract that was finally approved by workers at the beginning of this week came as a “last, best, and final” offer from Republic, and was identical in terms to the contract rejected by workers just 11 days earlier. Some of the workers say that their approval of the final contract was based on the pressure of their benefits from the previous contract expiring
After voting to ratify the new contract, sanitation workers returned them back to work starting on Tuesday.
Reporting Courtesy of Sean Hagerup
Image Courtesy of a.canvas.of.light on Flickr
Web Posting Courtesy of JJ Meyer