By Debra Smith Herald Writer
Recycle bins and garbage cans remained unemptied on curbs today, as Waste Management officials scrambled to find workers to collect trash.
Hundreds of garbage haulers in Snohomish and King counties walked off the job Wednesday morning, leaving garbage trucks full and routes unfinished.
Just south of Everett, Serena Caffrey said she supporters garbage haulers but she wants them to get back to work.
She runs a daycare from her house, which produces a can-full of dirty diapers weekly. Today is her collection date and she doesn’t want to pay extra to haul them to the dump.
“I need my garbage picked up,” she said.
At Waste Mangement sites in both counties, workers converged on picket lines.
In Bothell, workers took shifts through the night, huddled around burn barrels. This morning, two dozen men gathered just off the property line in front a Waste Management building. They sat under tents and stood talking in small knots. Yellow caution tape separated the men from company property.
The workers declined to comment and directed a reporter toward a union spokesman. There were signs they planned to dig in for the long haul. A port-a-potty was set up nearby and men drank mugs of coffee or 2-liter bottles of pop.
People driving by on nearby 180th Street honked their horns. One man slowed his van to give a thumbs up. A bicyclist gave workers the peace sign.
The company is asking customers to pull carts in and hold them until their next regular collection day. The company says it will collect double the amount then for no extra charge.
Customers with Friday service should drag garbage and recycling containers to the curb as usual. If it isn’t collected by the end of the day, bring it back in and put it out next week.
Waste Management serves 75,000 homes and businesses in parts of unincorporated Snohomish County as well as Arlington, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Brier, Mukilteo and parts of south Everett.
The company is contractually obligated to collect garbage. In the past, officials have said they plan to bring in employees from other areas or hire new employees to get garbage collected.
The union announced the strike Wednesday morning “in response to Waste Management’s refusal to bargain,” according to a release.
Workers have been hauling garbage since their contracts expired March 31 while negotiations took place. Another local company, Allied Waste, and the union reached a contract agreement earlier this month.
Talks with Waste Management sputtered after the company offered what it called its final and best offer — an offer that didn’t satisfy the union. The union is claiming the company violated labor law by not giving them a chance to negotiate on 12 changes to that contract.