Allied Waste reaches pact; Waste Management still talking

Trash collection is continuing today even though the contract with some workers has expired.

Garbage haulers who work for Allied Waste tentatively agreed to sign a new labor contract early Wednesday evening.

The union and Waste Management plan more talks for later today after negotiating until nearly 1 a.m.

Waste Management spokeswoman Jackie Lang said negotiators would meet again later in the day but did not have a time.

She said the continued talks mean there will be no strike or lockout today.

Allied Waste workers pick up trash at nearly 25,000 homes and businesses across Snohomish County today.

The Waste Management workers collect trash at 75,000 homes and businesses in communities across the county, including Arlington, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Brier, Mukilteo, and parts of south Everett and unincorporated Snohomish County.

Talks were stalled between Waste Management and Teamsters Local 174, according to a release sent out Wednesday evening from the company.

“Waste Management and the union have barely met and have no new proposals on the table,” the release said.

Union spokesman Michael Gonzales called that “premature” and said they were still trying to find agreement before the clock hit midnight. A federal mediator was still trying to broker a solution.

“We’re trying as hard as we can to get a contract,” he said. “We don’t want to see disruption to the community.”

As of Wednesday, Waste Management was poised to replace drivers with other employees or new hires. Officials promised that if a strike occurred, service should resume quickly.

On its Web site, Waste Management Northwest instructs customers to put garbage, recyclables and yard waste at the curb as usual. If it doesn’t get picked up, drivers will pick up twice as much material next week.

Waste Management plans to send a prerecorded message with updated information to all customers in its service area. Customers also may check the company’s Web site, www.wmnorthwest.com, beginning at 6 a.m. for information.

Unionized garbage collectors in Snohomish and King counties voted Sunday to authorize a strike. A federal mediator began helping with negotiations Monday.

The sticking points remain pay and benefits.

Waste Management is offering a five-year salary and benefits package that would equal on average $104,180 per employee, said Jackie Lang, spokeswoman for the company. Workers would be paid a median yearly salary of $71,000.

“I would add that the benefits package includes what many would consider gold-plated health care coverage plus a pension that is paid 100 percent by Waste Management,” she said.

Teamsters spokesman Gonzales said the wage estimate is based on mandatory overtime. The top workers he represents earn $54,000 annually without overtime. Most garbage haulers are expected to work more than 40 hours a week, he said.

Employees also are being asked to pay more for health care — from $30 a month to as much as $80, he said.

Gonzales said the union also is concerned about language the company is introducing that would allow workers’ pay to be adjusted at anytime without recourse.

Allied Waste covers Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Sultan, Index, Gold Bar, and parts of Lynnwood, Edmonds, Monroe and Woodway.

Another company, Rubatino, serves central and northern Everett and isn’t involved with the strike.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

In case of a strike

If bins don’t get emptied because of a strike, people and businesses can still get rid of trash and recycling at Snohomish County solid waste facilities.

Half a dozen stations across the county accept recycling and trash. It will cost extra.

What residential customers shouldn’t do is dump trash in commercial dumpsters or the side of the road — both are illegal.

For more information about county transfer sites, go to http://tinyurl.com/transfersites/or call 425-388-3425.

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