Seattle-area garbage haulers reject offers, consider strikes |

Seattle-area garbage haulers reject offers, consider strikes

SEATTLE – A union representing 600 Seattle-area garbage-truck drivers rejected two proposed contracts, raising the threat of a strike.Officials at Teamsters Local 174 planned to meet Sunday to discuss whether they would return to the bargaining table or strike. Garbage service for some 2 million households and thousands of businesses in King and Snohomish counties is at stake.The union rejected four-year contract proposals Saturday from Allied Waste Industries Inc. and Waste Management Inc. Major sticking points were health care and overtime.The two tentative contracts, reached by negotiators April 15, were very similar, said the local’s secretary-treasurer, Dan Scott. He declined to release the vote tallies.Waste Management spokeswoman Lynn Brown said the Houston-based company has a contingency plan to continue service, but called speculation of a strike premature. The company had not met with union leaders since the vote, she said.”We do look forward to sitting down with them and understanding the issues,” Brown said early Sunday.Officials from Scottsdale, Ariz.,-based Allied Waste did not return calls seeking comment Saturday.The city’s agreements with the two companies require them to continue to provide trash-hauling services regardless of any labor disruption, said Marty McOmber, spokesman for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.”If they fail to do that, the city can seek significant damages from the companies that will add up very quickly,” McOmber said. “The burden will fall on them.”Scott said the longer hours caused by excessive overtime can jeopardize safety and lower morale.”We want quality of life,” he said. “We want to have control over some days – like if my son has graduation, I want to have a reasonable chance of attending.”

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