YOUNGSTOWN - More than 80 local trash haulers for Allied Waste / Republic Services walked off the job Monday morning in support of 23 fellow workers on strike since March 27.
In addition, nearly 500 more drivers, helpers and mechanics at other Republic facilities across Ohio also joined the picket lines, Teamster leaders announced Monday.
"They are honoring the picket lines," said Teamsters Local 377 president Rich Sandberg, explaining they are not necessarily joining the strike, but rather, according to a media statement, using their "legal right to refuse to cross picket lines in support of striking workers at other Republic locations."
In all, more than 600 members of Teamsters Locals 377, 284, 92, 20, 244 and 964 in Youngstown, Columbus, Canton, Elyria and Cleveland have refused to cross the picket lines.
Twenty-three workers at the Carbon Limestone landfill in Poland Township began their strike in March claiming unfair labor practices. Members of Local 377 have been working without a labor contract since November. They were initially backed by the entire 106-member local until 83 drivers returned to work April 2 only to come back to the picket line Monday morning.
Landfill workers and company officials have filed conflicting charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. The charges are under investigation.
Republic officials have said the key sticking point in the negotiations is the union's refusal to withdraw from Central States Pension Fund.
Allied Waste / Republic Services officials said earlier this month their employees' Central States Pension Fund will be insolvent in 10 years. They tried to encourage employees to take a lump sum payment and re-invest in a 401(k).
The Teamsters claim the company's total revenues topped $8.2 billion in 2011 and it made $589 million in profit.
Republic Services / Allied Waste Youngstown's General Manager Doug Dunn on Monday issued a statement noting that the company is working to keep trash collected.
"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," Dunn said. Customers needing waste or recycling pick-up should call 1-800-437-1123.
New talks are scheduled for April 23 and 24.