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Garbage Workers May Strike If Contract Agreement Not Reached

Recology employees in contract negotiations include drivers, clerical workers and equipment operators.

Recology San Mateo County.
Recology San Mateo County.
Written by Joan S. Dentler

Union workers at Recology San Mateo County, the franchised service provider for recycling, compost and garbage collection services for most of the mid-Peninsula, including San Mateo, have threatened to strike following the expiration of two of their three contracts Oct. 23. A third contract is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

The employees in contract negotiations—about 100 total--are drivers, equipment operators, clerical workers and mechanics, represented by Teamsters Local 350.

These workers are employed by Recology and South Bay Recycling, and not by the individual cities or SBWMA (RethinkWaste). The city of San Mateo and RethinkWaste are not involved in the labor negotiations.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the board of South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA), also referred to as Rethink Waste, will consider authorizing the hiring of subcontracted workers if union employees work off the job. SBWMA will consider the request at a special meeting on Thursday.

The Merc also reports that Hilary Gans, Rethink Waste's facilities operations contract manager, told the board he was made aware of possible “labor unrest” at the San Carlos-based Shoreway Environmental Center in a letter from South Bay Recycling General Manager Dwight Herring, whose company runs the plant.

South Bay Recycling would pay for the replacement workers, Gans wrote in a memo.

Although the collective bargaining agreements contain a "no strike" provision, Gans wrote that the agreement does not apply to workers whose contracts have expired.

A meeting between South Bay Recycling and the union is set for Tuesday. According to the Merc, the company asked the union to extend the contract 60 days during the negotiations but the Teamsters refused.

Mike Mahoney, a spokesman for South Bay Recycling, said the Teamsters' vote authorizing union leaders to call a strike is a "negotiating tactic" and added it's "unlikely" there would be any labor disruption.

Rethink Waste serves Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District.

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