Still no deal after Local 701 ends strike at Corvallis landfill



Mechanics who maintain equipment at the Coffin Butte Landfill in Corvallis ended their strike Nov. 13 after two months on the picket line.

The seven workers — who voted Dec. 21, 2022, to join Operating Engineers Local 701 — walked out Sept. 11 to protest stonewalling by Republic Services in contract negotiations. They ended their strike with an unconditional offer to return to work and they continue to try to negotiate a first union contract.

The workers’ top priority in bargaining is to secure affordable health coverage for themselves and their families. Local 701 sponsors a multi-employer health trust that could provide superior full-family health insurance for a lower premium than the company pays now, but Republic Services has entirely refused to consider it.

Judging by the latest bargaining session, it’s not clear that the company would agree to any contract at all, even though federal law requires it to bargain in good faith to try to reach agreement.

At the Dec. 1 session, Local 701 agreed to lock in a five-year contract and accept the company’s wage proposal in its entirety, including a new training wage in which new hires would make 85%, 90%, and 95% of the base wage as they accumulated hours. The union also agreed to freeze the employer’s share of the health premium for the duration of the contract, and have workers pay for any increase in premiums.

The next bargaining date is set for Jan. 3, 2024.

“They were hoping that they guys would have given up by now,” said Local 701 Business Manager James Anderson. “We won’t do that.”

Anderson said a number of local elected leaders have written to Republic Services to express concern about apparent unfair labor practices, including Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield and 11 other state legislators, and U.S. Congresswomen Val Hoyle and Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Republic Services has at least 25 open cases in 11 states pending investigation by the National Labor Relations Board.

Headquartered in Arizona, publicly traded Republic Services is a highly successful money-harvesting trash colossus. Last year it reported a 29% profit on $13.5 billion in revenue. It operates 206 active landfills and employs approximately 40,000 full-time workers. About 23% of them were covered by collective bargaining agreements. 


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