WASHINGTON, April 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Waste workers employed by Republic Services in McDonough, Ga., voted overwhelmingly yesterday, by a five-to-one margin, to ratify a five-year agreement. The drivers, helpers and mechanics are members of Local 728 in Atlanta and have been working without a contract for nearly two years. The agreement contains better wages and stronger protections and secures retro pay for the unit of 40 workers.
Republic workers overcame an aggressive anti-union campaign by management throughout the bargaining process, said Renard Henley, a residential driver for Republic Services who also serves as a steward for Local 728.
«It took a lot of time and pressure to finally get the company to bargain in good faith to secure a fair contract,» Henley said. «The longer our fight went on, the more it became clear that we all needed to come together and stand up to the company. We refused to back down until a strong agreement was reached and ratified. We are all proud of what we’ve accomplished in this new contract.»
An additional point of contention during negotiations was retro pay, which the company had initially agreed on before reneging earlier in the year. After outside support from local elected officials and labor allies in the community, Local 728 secured retro pay and effectively converted from day rates with an incentive structure to hourly wages.
«This is a great win and a great feeling. It’s also a relief. This was a long, drawn-out process and a very hard fight,» said Huey Vample, a residential driver who will mark 20 years at the McDonough hauling yard in July. «We are a strong group. And if we hadn’t stood as strong as we stood, we wouldn’t have gotten the great contract that what we got. We’re grateful.»
The contract ratification in McDonough follows the April 10 ratification vote for Local 728 members at Republic Services in Cumming, Ga. The issues facing workers in both locations gained the support of local elected officials and labor allies, who mailed in letters to the company expressing concern for workers’ rights and urging the company to bargain in good faith.
«These workers sent a powerful message to the company. The results speak for themselves. We gave the company no choice but to listen and negotiate an agreement that these workers have long deserved,» said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division. «I would also like to thank our friends, elected officials and community allies for helping to win these workers a fair contract. I especially want to thank the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council for all their help with outreach and for their continued support to achieve justice for workers in the waste industry.»
Stiles noted that the contract win also follows a legal victory for McDonough workers earlier in the year. On Feb. 27, Local 728 reached a settlement in federal court against the City of McDonough for interfering with the distribution of union literature during the workers’ 2019 strike at Republic Services. The settlement sets a precedent for the city and will allow workers to make their voice heard while also expanding First Amendment rights.
«We stepped up our fight on every front,» Stiles said. «No matter what Republic Services tried to throw at us, our members grew stronger. I want to thank the incredible team at Local 728 and the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division for their hard work, and I want to applaud this incredible group of workers for never backing down and always standing strong.»
The Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division represents over 7,000 Republic Services workers across the country.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org or more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and «like» us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Contact: Kara Deniz, (202) 497-6610
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SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters