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Teamsters Local 174, garbage truck drivers, vote to authorize a labor strike

Garbage truck drivers represented by Teamsters Local 174 voted today to authorize a strike that would affect Maple Valley, Covington, Black Diamond and the surrounding area.

The union represents drivers in both King and Snohomish counties.

The union has been negotiating with Waste Management, which is based in Houston, Texas and Allied Waste Services, which is owned by Republic Services with corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz.

Michael Gonzales, spokesman for Local 174, said the vote was nearly unanimous with only one no vote.

According Gonzales, the drivers that pick up recycle and yard waste, represented by Teamster Local 117, will honor a picket line if it is set up by 174 drivers.

The contract for the local 174 drivers expires Wednesday, March 31 at midnight.

According to Jackie Lang, spokeswoman for Waste Management, the first potential day for a strike would be Thursday, April 1.

Gonzales said the vote “does not mean we are going to strike. If we are close to a deal, we will keep negotiating until we feel the companies have forced a dispute upon us.”

Both Allied and Waste Management are making plans to have the garbage, yard waste and recycling picked up if the drivers strike.

Lang stated the negotiations will continue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Our primary focus is the negotiating table,” Lang said.

Gonzales stated the union has asked for a federal mediator to join the negotiations with Waste Management. The union has not yet asked for a mediator in the negotiations with Allied.

According to Gonzales, the mediator will join the Waste Management and union negotiators at 10 a.m. Monday, March 29.

The union is currently at the table with Allied.

Lang said Waste Management “welcomes” the mediator.

Both Gonzales and Lang stated Friday the main issues on the table are wages and benefits, including health care and pension funds.

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