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Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 8:43 p.m.

Waste Management, drivers reach tentative deal

Waste Management and union leadership announced a tentative agreement Wednesday evening to end a weeklong strike disrupting trash service to much of Snohomish and King counties.
Regular drivers planned to resume service Thursday to some of the more than 200,000 affected garbage customers, but the company warned that yard-waste and recycling collection would be limited.
A vote on the deal was scheduled for 9 Thursday morning, according to a Waste Management press release.
"We are extremely pleased that we reached an agreement on a new contract that delivers a solid compensation package to our hardworking and professional drivers," company spokeswoman Robin Freedman said.
Teamster leadership told Waste Management they would recommend approving Wednesday's deal.
"We are pleased to have negotiated a contract that recognizes the professionalism of our members," said Tracey Thompson, secretary-treasurer for Local 117.
About 150 yard-waste and recycling drivers from Teamsters Local 117 began striking July 25 over a new six-year contract. They were soon joined on the picket lines by about 350 garbage haulers, represented by a separate union, leading to service disruptions throughout the region.
Workers picketed at facilities in Maltby, Marysville and Seattle.
On Tuesday, collection also stopped in Skagit County, northern Snohomish County and Camano Island when workers at Waste Management's Burlington facility joined the picket lines in support.
During the strike, union drivers and union reps have maintained that the company was refusing to bargain in good faith.
Waste Management reported offering Local 117 members a six-year deal that would raise average salaries from $58,000 to $68,000 a year. Including benefits, the offer was worth $98,000 a year to a driver at the end of the sixth year, the company said.
It wasn't immediately clear how the tentative deal compared to that offer.
Until the apparent breakthrough, it looked like each side would be digging in for a protracted labor battle.
The company brought in substitute workers from outside the region to cover routes and launched a large-scale advertising campaign to hire non-union replacement drivers.
The substitute drivers focused on reaching hospitals, restaurants and other commercial customers because of the potential risk to public health.
By Wednesday, some residential areas in Snohomish County were in their second week without trash pickup.
Curbside garbage pickup is divided along municipal boundaries and state-regulated service areas. Parts of Snohomish County served by Waste Management are: Arlington, Bothell, Brier, Granite Falls, Lynnwood east of Highway 99, Mill Creek, more than half of Mukilteo, Stanwood and much of the unincorporated county.
Waste Management also serves parts of Marysville and Lake Stevens annexed in recent years, as well as a sliver of Edmonds near Lake Ballinger.
For areas that have missed regular pickups, the company has promised to collect additional trash for free on the next collection day. Officials in several local cities reported calls from people angry about having to pay their full trash bill for days they received no service.
Snohomish County's transfer stations and drop boxes have not been affected by the strike. The county's Southwest Recycling and Transfer Station in Mountlake Terrace, however, is undergoing a maintenance closure scheduled to last through Aug. 17. Other county transfer stations in Everett and Arlington are open as usual.
The Snohomish Health District on Wednesday reported that accumulating garbage posed no immediate threat to health and safety.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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