There was a time, not too long ago, that the thought of crossing a Teamsters picket line would strike fear into most people's hearts. Times have changed.
If the Teamsters strike waste giant Waste Management in Washington State, the company will have more than enough replacement workers to fill strikers' boots as more than 1,600 people have applied to take the union strikers jobs.
More than 1,600 people have applied to work as replacement drivers for Waste Management in case of a strike by the Teamsters, a company spokesperson said Saturday.
"We're preparing to hire replacements in the event of a prolonged strike. It's part of our contingency planning," said Jackie Lang, spokeswoman for Waste Management.
The company submitted what it calls its "best, last, final offer" to union garbage truck drivers represented by Teamsters Local 174, but the offer was rejected Friday by the union
But Lang said there are plenty of qualified people out there who are willing to fill in if it comes to that.
"The response to our ads was very strong," she said. "We had more than 1,600 people apply online, and today we're interviewing the best 100 out of those applicants."
Lang said Waste Management was not surprised by the large number of applicants.
Given the economy, a lot of people are under-employed and unemployed. So the response was very strong and ... it's a very strong group of applicants.
The Teamsters already have voted to authorize a strike, but said they currently have no plans to call a strike.
Waste Management's five-year offer includes a wage increase of $1 per hour in the first year, bumping up the current pay rate of $26.29 per hour by 3.7 percent.
By the last year of the contract, the average driver's annual compensation will reach $109,553, Waste Management said, and the company will contribute more than $15,000 per year to each employee's pension fund.
In addition, Waste Management said it is offering a one-time $1,000 bonus to each employee if the contract is ratified by April 3.
Perhaps the Teamsters need to be reminded that one man's trash is another man's treasure and, if they don't want these jobs, other people do...in this case, more than 1,600 of them.
Update, April 4th: The Teamsters appear to be blinking...hard:
Garbage workers in King and Snohomish counties backed off threats of a strike Saturday, while their company lined up replacement workers.
"We have no plans for any kind of work stoppage at all, at this time," said Michael Gonzales, spokesman for Teamsters Local 174, which represents trash haulers who serve about 1 million homes and businesses in the two-county area.
But garbage-collection firm Waste Management began interviewing 100 possible replacement drivers Saturday. The applicants also were asked to demonstrate their driving skills on an obstacle course, said company spokeswoman Jackie Lang.
More than 1,600 people applied for the jobs.
"What we're doing is preparing for the worst," Lang said, pointing out that the Teamsters voted last week to authorize a strike.
Waste Management also hasn't ruled out the possibility of a lockout of the union workers, whose contract expired March 31. The haulers have been working without a contract since then. [Emphasis added.]
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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