Talks between drivers, Waste Management break down

SEATTLE — A labor showdown could affect drivers responsible for curbside recycling and yard-waste pickup in parts of Snohomish County.

So far, there’s no word of service disruptions, but that could change if discussions between Waste Management and Teamsters Local 117 failed to resume.

Local 117 represents Waste Management’s 152 yard-waste and recycling drivers in the Puget Sound area. They serve 115,000 customers in Snohomish County.

Affected routes run through Arlington, Granite Falls, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Marysville, Mukilteo and large parts of unincorporated Snohomish County.

Talks over a new six-year contract broke down Thursday. Union members plan to meet today to discuss their options.

“It’s been our concern all along that (Waste Management) is planning to lock out our drivers,” said Paul Zilly, a spokesman for the local. “If there’s a lockout, it could happen at any time.”

Waste Management is hopeful the sides will come to an agreement, but has backup plans if they do not, spokeswoman Robin Freedman said.

“Our commitment is to the customers we serve and we will provide service to the best of our ability if there are any sort of disruptions by the union,” Freedman said. “We really hope that the union leadership gives the union members a chance to vote on this contract.”

The Houston-based company’s local office posts regular service updates at www.wmnorthwest.com. The site listed no service delays as of Friday.

About 20 of the 152 affected drivers are Snohomish County-based, working out of yards in Marysville and Bothell, Zilly said.

Waste Management said its final offer to the drivers included an average wage and benefit increase of more than 4 percent per year. That would give the average recycling driver more than $98,000 in compensation in the final year of the new contract, according to the company. Each employee would receive a $2,000 signing bonus if the contract is accepted by Sunday.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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