Republic services strike ends on 8th day, after drivers approve contract deal


Republic Services sanitation workers in Huntington Beach and Anaheim returned to work Friday, ending an eight-day strike over unfair labor practices after members of Teamsters Local 396 voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Phoenix-based company.

The move comes after council members in both towns took steps to resume collection as litter piled up in homes and businesses during the work stoppage.

Anaheim officials approved an emergency plan early last week that allowed some services to resume to critical homes and businesses, while the Huntington Beach City Council declared a local emergency on Tuesday, approving a alternate plan to mitigate service disruptions.

Huntington Beach Director of Public Works Sean Crumby said Friday the city could have used a different carrier during the strike and been compensated by Republic Services.

“The declaration of emergency was made to provide the greatest number of options for the city manager and allow the city to respond quickly as the situation evolved,” he said. “We had contingency plans to step in and provide service, and we would have done that by this weekend.”

Instead, drivers resumed their journey early Friday morning.

Adan Alvarez, communications director for Teamsters Local 396, said talks with Republic Services resumed on Tuesday after bargaining sessions scheduled for last week were canceled due to the strike.

A tentative agreement was reached Wednesday, as some 420 waste haulers continued to demonstrate in picket lines at the Huntington Beach and Anaheim facilities.

“This tentative agreement was ratified by members in Anaheim and Huntington Beach last night,” Alvarez said Friday. “And the workers are back to work today.”

Employees authorized a strike in a November 23 vote, saying the company had failed to address issues such as excessive working hours, use of non-union temporary workers and harassment of managers on the job .

After leaders allegedly issued threats against employees who spoke to the media or appeared in photos after the vote, and offered bonuses without consulting union representatives, a strike was called on December 9.

On November 23, Republic Services employees in Huntington Beach voted to authorize a strike as contract negotiations stalled.

(Courtesy of Teamsters Local 396)

On Monday, Huntington Beach officials had set up five alternate sites where residents and businesses could drop off their trash, including the city’s public works yard.

Employees were stationed in the Public Works Yard, Edison and Murdy Community Centers, Greer Park and the Meadowlark Golf Club parking lot, where they worked nine-hour shifts and used equipment loaders to help with large items .

Crumby said residents started calling Public Works as soon as service shut down on Thursday.

“We had to enlist the help of other departments for field calls because the volume of calls was extremely high,” he said. “It’s a tough time because a lot of people are getting gifts for the holidays, so there’s an extreme amount of boxes and cardboard material – it can add up quickly.”

Talks between Huntington Beach and Republic Services took place twice a day throughout the strike, until the company alerted the city Thursday afternoon that a tentative agreement had been reached.

In an announcement Thursday after the vote to ratify the new contracts, Republic Services’ media team said the company is proud to offer its employees competitive wages and comprehensive benefits.

Workers demonstrate outside a Huntington Beach Republic Services facility on December 9, the first day of an eight-day strike.

Workers demonstrate outside a Huntington Beach Republic Services facility on December 9, the first day of an eight-day strike.

(File photo)

“We look forward to resuming regular service in our communities starting tomorrow, and we are grateful to our city partners for their patience during this work stoppage,” the statement said, thanking the City of Anaheim for helping to encourage a resolution.

Omar Ortiz, a Republic Services Huntington Beach driver, said in a release issued by Teamsters 396 By standing together, sanitation workers had earned respect on the job and a company commitment to stop engaging in unfair labor practices on Friday.

“I am pleased that we are finally being recognized for essential work that has kept communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ortiz said in the statement.

Alvarez said he believes the enactment of emergency plans in Huntington Beach and Anaheim, for which Republic Services bears financial responsibility, and a strong community response played a role in the exit. of the dead end.

“That was definitely a factor, and the support we got from the community was tremendous,” he said. “Our members are satisfied and happy to return to work serving the communities in which they work. »

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