Strike boss questions employer's loyalty

In the midst of a strike by its drivers, Waste Management Inc. is hiring permanent workers to replace the strikers, a company official said Friday. About 450 Waste Management drivers have been on strike since Oct. 19, after they rejected the company's offer for a new contract and demanded higher raises.

An official from Teamsters Local 396, which represents the workers, said the union will insist that all its employees return to work if it reaches an agreement with the company.

The striking drivers work at Waste Management facilities in Sun Valley, Compton and Long Beach. The strike has not affected residential customers in Los Angeles - who are served by city sanitation workers - but thousands of businesses hire Waste Management for trash hauling.

"Because of the size of the company's customer base and the geographic vastness of Los Angeles, the company must hire permanent replacement drivers in order to fulfill its obligation to the communities it serves," said Kit Cole, a company spokeswoman.

It started bringing in its own temporary drivers from across the country as soon as the strike began. The permanent drivers the company is hiring now are mostly from the L.A. area.

"There are employees on the strike line that have worked 30-plus years for this company, and within a week the company is proposing to replace them," said Jay Phillips, president of Local 396. "There is no loyalty to the workers."


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