Waste Management: Employees gain benefits, wages in Waste Management plan

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ — Waste Management of Wisconsin today proposed a new five-year contract with Teamsters Local 200 that would significantly boost employee wages and benefits while freeing the company from long-term liability for an ailing Teamster-led pension plan, company officials say.

Waste Management would plow all of the premiums it now pays to the failing Central States Pension Fund into new benefits and wages for employees represented by Teamsters Local 200, and allocate additional funds for their compensation under a last, best and final offer presented in bargaining talks today.

The company is urging the union to bring the proposal before its members as quickly as possible and waiting word on when that will happen, said Market Area General Manager Michael Fleming. “This is a package our employees and their families will welcome. We want them back on the job.”

Waste Management is willing to accept an increase in its current expenses in exchange for releasing the company and its Teamsters 200 employees from the ailing Central States Pension Fund, Fleming said. Central States has threatened to cut employee benefits and is pressing Waste Management and other employers to up their fund contributions. Central States’ deteriorating condition landed it on the Treasury Department’s “critical status” list, reserved for funds in grave condition.

“We’re not willing to pay more and more into a fund that’s giving our employees less and less,” said Fleming. “The longer we stay, the more we pay and the less our hard-working employees can count on for their retirement years.”

Instead, Fleming said, Waste Management intends to redirect its Central States’ contributions to help pay for a new defined contribution pension plan, wage increases, an enhanced health plan and other employee compensation. “We’re not after savings, we’re after value,” he said. “We want to be sure our workers and their families actually receive the benefits we’re buying for them.”

Waste Management of Wisconsin’s proposal calls for first-year wage increases of 10% to 15%, with 3% increases during subsequent years of the five-year pact. Workers would become immediately eligible for a defined contribution pension plan to which the company would initially contribute $1,000 for each eligible employee. Waste Management would contribute an additional 50% match for an employee’s voluntary contributions of up to 6% of the employee’s compensation.

While employees vested in Central States will remain eligible for whatever benefits the Fund does provide, Fleming noted that Fund representatives involved in the contract talks have threatened to cut benefits for Teamsters Local 200 members if the company withdraws from the Fund. “Central States’ decision to strip these benefits from our employees is outrageous,” Fleming said. “Our company strongly opposes these benefit reductions, questions their validity, and has repeatedly asked Central States to reverse its decision.”

CONTACT: Lynn Morgan, +1-414-429-2019, for Waste Management of Wisconsin