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On the picket line

April 7, 2006 | Page 11

Seattle sanitation truck drivers
By Steve Leigh | April 7, 2006 | Page 11

SEATTLE--About 100 truck drivers and supporters rallied to demand a good contract as Teamsters Local 174, the union that represents 600 drivers, threatened to strike two garbage companies that serve King County.

The main issues in the contract are mandatory overtime and an attack on health benefits. The companies are trying to force the employees to shift to an inferior health plan.

Workers are often forced to work 50 to 60-hour weeks--in a very heavy physical job. The companies, Allied Waste/Rabanco and Waste Management, want to save money by not hiring more workers and paying benefits to new employees.

The contract expired March 31, but workers decided to work without a contract for up to two weeks to try to get a new contract. A strike would halt collection of more than 95 percent of garbage in the Seattle area.

The contract dispute here is part of a nationwide struggle. Workers in New York City and Washington, D.C., are also working without contracts while attempting to prevent company demands for concessions.

Workers from each of these cities flew in to join the rally and show solidarity--and were given a warm reception. Workers in the three cities pledged to support each other as they take on Waste Management, a multi-billion dollar corporation.

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