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Union Trash Haulers Reject Contract Offer

Waste Management says Teamsters local has authorized a possible strike that could affect South Bay-area homes.

November 18, 2002|Peter Pae | Times Staff Writer

Waste Management Inc. said Sunday its unionized truck drivers who collect trash from more than 110,000 homes in the South Bay area rejected a company-proposed contract offer over the weekend and authorized a possible strike.

The nation's largest garbage hauler said Teamsters Local 396, representing 500 drivers in Los Angeles, rejected a company offer to increase salaries and benefits by 38% over the next five years, raising the average base salary to $58,000 from $45,000 a year.

The union, whose officials could not be reached for comment Sunday, is seeking a 70% wage and benefit increase, the company said.

No strike deadline has been set, but a Waste Management official said the company was concerned that some drivers would begin striking immediately, possibly disrupting trash collection in Carson, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach.

"Union officers are not yet prepared to authorize a strike, but we're concerned that some drivers will strike on their own," said Bob Coyle, a Waste Management spokesman.

Waste Management and the union have been negotiating since Aug. 1 for a new contract. The current contract expired Sept. 30 and was extended to Nov. 17. The company said it remained "hopeful that we can continue our talks" with the union.

But if a strike were to take place, the Houston-based company said it would make staffing adjustments, including bringing in employees from other local regions to minimize disruption to trash pickup.

Trash service for hospitals, health clinics and restaurants would not be affected by the strike, the company said.

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