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Republic Waste employees unionize for workers’ rights

McDonough sanitation workers vote to join teamsters

Special Photo
Republic Waste workers recently voted to join the Teamsters, a labor union that represents 7,000 workers in Georgia, including transportation workers at United Parcel Service, Yellow Freight, Arkansas Best Freight,  and other employers in the state.

Special Photo Republic Waste workers recently voted to join the Teamsters, a labor union that represents 7,000 workers in Georgia, including transportation workers at United Parcel Service, Yellow Freight, Arkansas Best Freight, and other employers in the state.

Republic Waste workers, in McDonough, have voted 24-14, to join Teamsters Local 728.

“This is a great victory for our union,” said the president of Teamsters Local 728, Randy Brown. “It adds another unit to an existing group of Republic workers in the Atlanta area. It goes to show, yet again, that we can organize waste workers in the South.”

One of the drivers for Republic Waste, Renard Henley, said the drivers were frustrated by wage cuts, intimidation, heavy workloads and management’s alleged indifference to their problems.

The waste workers voted to unionize Friday, during an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, according to the Organizing Director of Teamsters Local 728, Ben Speight.

Republic Waste commercial and residential employees, including drivers, mechanics, and waste workers, known as “helpers,” want better working conditions, said Speight.

Teamsters Local 728 has been around since the 1930’s in Atlanta. “Our union has 1.4 million members nationwide,” he said. Teamsters Local 728 represents tens of thousands of Republic Waste workers, he said, adding that The Teamsters also represent transportation workers in Georgia, at United Parcel Service, Yellow Freight, Arkansas Best Freight (ABF), and at about a dozen other employers.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents working men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Republic Waste Spokesperson Peg Mulloy confirmed the vote by employees at the hauling division in McDonough. “We look forward to negotiating in good faith with union representatives, to work out a contract that is acceptable and fair to both sides,” said Mulloy.

“About two months ago, the workers contacted our local union,” explained Speight. “They wanted to form a union, for respect, a voice on the job, safety and fair compensation ...

“The waste industry is a very cut-throat environment,” said Speight. “They routinely worked 14-hour days, where they make less money after 40 hours, so it is a backward system for compensating workers for overtime,” according to Speight. The workers also wanted job security, and freedom to voice their concerns, and issues, he continued.

“We can negotiate a cap on excessive hours, fair compensation, and annual raises [where] they can see that their wages rise and keep pace with the cost of living,” said Speight. “They wanted their own contract, they wanted to have a legally binding collective bargaining agreement.”