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Trash collection picking up some

Firm hires temporary replacements for workers who went on strike Monday.

October 26, 2006|Kelly-Anne Suarez | Times Staff Writer

Trash pickup for thousands of North County residents was partially resumed Wednesday after a waste management company hired temporary replacements for about 300 workers on strike since Monday.

Taormina Industries -- serving Anaheim, Brea, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Placentia, Yorba Linda and Villa Park -- said in a statement that about 75% of its commercial trucks and 40% of its automated trash collection trucks were back on the road, with hopes of more being returned to service over the next several days.

A spokesman for Taormina, based in Anaheim, declined to comment.

A mix of the company's truck drivers, mechanics, welders and tire men, all members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, walked out Monday after 20 days of contract negotiations failed, said Adam Flores, a Taormina truck driver and union spokesman. About 60 of them picketed the company's exit road Wednesday, allowing Taormina trucks to pass through their circular human barricade every 90 seconds, as requested by Anaheim police.

Union members last walked out in 2001 when their previous contract expired. "They promised us five years ago that it would get better," Flores said. "It hasn't."

At issue is an increase in pay -- currently about $16 an hour -- more affordable medical insurance and better working conditions.

The company said its offer of a 25% pay increase was "more than fair," adding in its statement that "it is a shame to see our drivers and mechanics lose their livelihood."

Flores said his route required that he empty about 200 bins a day, a job impossible to complete in eight hours, especially since his two-man team had been reduced to one. He said employees work grueling schedules and receive little vacation time.

Picketing at the company's entrance about half a mile away, mechanic Rene Moreno echoed those sentiments. "The company thinks, 'Hey, he's a burro, he can do it.' They're exploiting these men," said Moreno, a Whittier resident. "It's not just about the wages, it's about respect and consideration."

Moreno asked the public's forgiveness for the halt in service while stressing that union members just want what's fair. "I want to put my daughter through college too," he said of his 6-year-old, Lesley.

In its statement, the company suggested that residents who have not had pickups bag and store their trash until their next collection day.


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