CARLISLE TWP. — Republic Waste workers picketed outside the company’s Butternut Ridge Road facility Monday after a labor dispute between the company and a Teamsters local in the Youngstown area spread to Lorain County.
Regularly scheduled trash collection was largely suspended across communities in Lorain, Medina and Cuyahoga counties after Teamsters Local 20 workers refused to cross the picket line in solidarity with striking workers from Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown.
Eric Van Houten, general manager of Republic’s Lorain County waste collection operations, said that he expects trash collection service to resume today, although Republic customers across the region will see a one-day delay in garbage pickup.
“The odds are very good we’ll be back in service,” Van Houten said.
Martin Jay, business representative and trustee for Local 20, said that his 197 members would remain off the job as long as their brethren from the Youngstown area asked for their support. But he said that he didn’t know if Local 377 would ask for continued support today.
He said mechanics working afternoon and night shifts at the Butternut Ridge Road facility went to work late Monday.
Sam Cook, secretary-treasurer and principal for Local 377, said 22 union workers at the Carbon Limestone Landfill in Lowellville, Ohio, went on strike last Wednesday in a dispute over unfair labor practices by Republic. They were joined by roughly 90 workers who man the Republic trucks that bring trash to the landfill, he said.
He said he couldn’t discuss the details of the unfair labor practices because of pending formal complaints filed by the union.
Van Houten said although he’s not involved in that dispute, his understanding is that it centers on labor contract negotiations and the future of workers’ pensions.
Jay said right now Lorain County Republic workers don’t have an issue with the company, but are supporting their fellow union members.
“We’re currently negotiating with Republic Services, but at this point in time we have no disputes,” he said.
Sympathy strikes similar to the one that occurred Monday also have taken place in Illinois and Indiana, union members said as they stood in the cold outside the Butternut Ridge Road facility holding signs and getting supportive honks from passing vehicles.
Van Houten said that while trash pickup was largely stopped Monday in Amherst, Avon, Avon Lake, LaGrange, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Vermilion, Brunswick, Fairview Park, Berea and other areas, some high-priority trash, including from hospitals and businesses, was collected by supervisors and nonunion workers from other facilities.
He also said residential trash was collected in parts of North Ridgeville and Strongsville on Monday.
Operations at the company’s landfill in New Russia Township weren’t impacted by the strike, according to the union and company officials.
Elyria Safety-Service Director Mary Siwierka said trash collection in Elyria, which employs its own fleet of trucks and workers to pick up garbage in the city, wasn’t impacted by the strike. Oberlin also has its own city-run trash collection.
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