YOUNGSTOWN — The gridlock between Republic Services/Allied Waste and the 23 members of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, on strike since March 27, has snowballed across the state and parts of the U.S.
Nearly 600 drivers, helpers and mechanics at Republic’s Youngstown, Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland hauling yards are refusing to cross the picket lines in a show of solidarity.
The move comes after last week’s negotiations between Local 377 and Republic. The Teamsters International union alleges that the company broke federal law during contract negotiations and continues to intimidate workers.
The strike first began on March 27 when workers in Youngstown walked off the job over unfair labor practices and a contract dispute concerning wages and benefits.
Widespread interruptions are expected for trash pick-up in all the affected areas.
“We appreciate the patience of our customers during this time as members of Teamsters Local 377 have gone on a sympathy strike,” wrote Douglas Dunn, general manager at Republic in Youngstown. “We want to assure all of our customers that while their normal service will be delayed, we are working to ensure that their waste and recycling will be picked up as soon as possible.”
Previously, hundreds of Teamster members have refused to work at Republic locations in 10 cities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and California in support of striking landfill workers in Youngstown.
Tensions eased, though, when drivers went back out on their routes and negotiations were expected to proceed last week.
A large part of the problem is a stalemate over pension benefits. The company wants to transfer retirement benefits into a 401 (k) program and workers want to remain in the weak Central States Pension Fund. The impasse is a nationwide issue, sources close to the negotiations say.
Also on Monday, about 40 sanitation workers employed by Republic went on an unfair labor practice strike of their own in McDonough, Georgia.