Striking Teamster trash haulers will vote today on a management offer that, if accepted, would mean the restoration of garbage collection for 650,000 Los Angeles County residents.
The proposal calls for a 9% increase in wages over three years, but representatives of the four companies struck by the Teamsters Monday declined to provide details of their offer.
"It's too delicate," said Charles Leonard, district manager for Browning-Ferris Industries, which has the largest trash-hauling operation of the four companies struck by the Teamsters.
However, a Browning-Ferris shop steward, Larry Middleton, said the proposal would boost pay from $7.70 an hour to $8 an hour the first year with additional 20-cent increases in the succeeding two years.
He said it represents a softening of an initial management position to freeze wages for the first year and then increase pay by 20 cents an hour during the next two years.
But it is far from the union's initial demand, which Middleton said was for a $3.50 hourly pay increase over three years--a total increase of 46%.
Middleton said the company proposal does not offer any retirement benefits--another sore point with rank-and-file workers.
"You are looking at a man who has been here 29 years," said Gene Meredith, another Browning-Ferris shop steward. "When I walk away, I walk with the money in my wallet. I don't have any retirement plan."
Some trash was collected Wednesday, but in Gardena more than 35 of the trash trucks owned by Browning-Ferris Industries stood idle behind barbed wire in the company truck yard while company guards and a union picket line maintained a wary watch on each other.
Ward Clark, of Springfield, Mass., one of the employees who Browning-Ferris is flying in to man trash trucks during the strike, arrived Wednesday afternoon in a cab from the airport.
"You a union man?" a striker asked him.
"No," Clark replied
"You can't work here. You are at the wrong place. Jump back in the cab," the man said.
As Clark walked to the cab, a woman emerged from the Browning-Ferris building, asked him if he was an out-of-town employee and whisked him inside before strikers realized what was happening.
City and county officials, who reported high levels of concern from residents whose trash has not been picked up since Monday, sought to ease fears of a health problem.
"I don't believe there is an immediate health hazard," said Charles Coffee, chief sanitarian for Los Angeles County. "It is primarily one of aesthetics."
About 280,000 residents in Belvedere and Mesa Heights in eastern Los Angeles County and Firestone in the southeast, where the county has contracts with private trash haulers, are affected by the strike, as well almost 400,000 residents in 14 cities within Los Angeles County.
The cities are Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Commerce, Cudahy, Bell, El Segundo, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, Lawndale, Maywood, Paramount, Pico Rivera and West Hollywood.
Besides Browning-Ferris, the other companies affected by the strike are Metropolitan Waste Disposal Inc. of Montebello; GSX, which is based in Boston, and Waste Management of Sun Valley.