Trash Workers Strike; Negotiations Continue
Comerford, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Mike Comerford Daily Herald Business Writer
After negotiations failed to bring about a contract just after midnight Wednesday morning, two Teamsters locals representing 3,300 waste haulers made good on their threats to strike.
"We will continue to negotiate through the night, but right now we are on strike," Brian Rainville, a Teamsters spokesman said.
William Plunkett, a spokesman for the Chicago Area Waste Haulers Association, said, "We are extremely disappointed that this happened. We have negotiated in good faith and the Teamsters have not responded to any of our offers.
"We are saddened that the people of Chicago are in this position," he said.
Rainville said salary remains a major sticking point. He said that at the start of negotiations Tuesday the association offered a half-percent increase per year for a five-year contract.
The union handles waste hauling at most of the homes and businesses in the Chicago suburbs. The two locals are Teamsters Locals 731 and 301.
In Arlington Heights, the hauler is Elk Grove Village-based Groot Recycling and Waste Management. Village officials on Tuesday said Groot representatives told them not to worry.
"I was on the line with them (on Tuesday) and they sounded pretty positive," said Tom Oas, Arlington Heights' health director.
Particularly vulnerable would be multifamily complexes and businesses such as restaurants, that use Dumpsters. Garbage flow is usually more manageable at single-family homes, health officials said Tuesday.
Union and management in the Chicago market have a history of going down to the wire before settling waste-hauling contracts. And they have negotiated beyond their deadlines in the past.
This time around, however, the union voted 1,534 to 34 to authorize its leadership to call a strike if negotiations fail. The union represents a total of about 3,300 workers.
"The two sides haven't ever been this far apart before," Rainville said.
If there is a strike, Oas said area towns will issue recommendations via cable access outlets, Web sites and media. On Tuesday, Mount Prospect issued a release telling residents to put out their garbage.
"If it turns out to be a short strike, we'll treat it like a holiday and pick up a day or two later," said Lisa Angell, solid waste coordinator for Mount Prospect. …