By Noah Haglund Herald writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Emile Major has been waiting a week for workers to empty his trash bins outside his home on 56th Avenue West, near the Evergreen Playfield Complex.
You might see the 70-year-old’s curb as a front line, of sorts, for more than 200,000 garbage customers throughout much of Snohomish and King counties who are coping with the ongoing garbage strike.
When Waste Management drivers took to the picket lines last week, his house was among the first collections missed. If the company is unable to scramble workers to his route Aug. 1, he’ll be heading into a second week without service.
“I’m just going to start putting it out there and leaving it there until they come to pick it up,” said Major, whose also considering refusing to pay his trash bills. “I’m not going to haul them back and forth. You think I’m going to put my stuff out every day? To hell with that.”
City workers disrupted his plan last week when they moved his bins and others on the street back for an annual parade. He said he moved them right back to the curb.
On July 31, few signs of progress emerged in the week-old strike, despite a weekend attempt by the union for garbage and recycling drivers to jumpstart talks through a mediator.
The strike began on the morning of July 25 when about 150 drivers from that union, Teamsters Local 117, took to the picket lines over the failure to bargain a new six-year contract with Waste Management. Their old contract expired May 31. They were soon joined on the picket lines by about 350 garbage drivers from Teamsters Local 174, who serve the same areas.
In Snohomish County, affected routes include Arlington, Granite Falls, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, parts of Marysville, Mukilteo and large parts of unincorporated Snohomish County.
Customers of Allied Waste Services and Rubatino Refuse Removal are not affected.
For residential garbage customers in Mountlake Terrace, Aug. 1 will be a “watershed moment,” city manager John Caulfield said. If the strike disrupts trash service much longer, the city would like to see Waste Management set up two staffed collection bins.
The city also has the authority to levy fines of $1,500 per week for missed garbage pickup, he said, but isn’t likely to exercise that authority if the company addresses the city’s needs.