Waste Management: Presses for action on contract offer

Contact: Lynn Morgan


MILWAUKEE – SEPT. 16, 2008 – Waste Management of Wisconsin has set a deadline of 4 p.m. Sunday for Teamsters Local Union 200 to act on the company’s Sept. 10 contract offer, a move Waste Management officials say they are making reluctantly after a week of inaction by union officials.

“We’re eager to get our employees off the picket lines and back on the job,” said Michael Fleming, market area general manager for Waste Management. “We put a generous package on the table that we think our employees have a right to learn about and vote on.”

Union officials have yet to schedule a vote on the contract package Waste Management submitted Sept. 10 as its last, best and final offer, a delay Fleming said has puzzled and disappointed company officials.

An excerpt the company provided from Article XII of the Teamsters’ constitution requires that, “…when, in the judgment of the Local Union Executive Board, an employer has made a final offer of settlement, such offer must be submitted to the involved membership for a secret ballot vote as hereinafter provided.”

Waste Management’s proposed 5-year contract covering drivers, equipment operators and mechanics represented by Local 200 calls for significant wage increases, along with an improved health plan, double-time pay on Sundays and holidays, and increased tool and uniform allowances.

The package would also create a new 401(k) defined contribution pension plan that Fleming said would be more generous than the 401(k) pension plan for Teamster-represented employees of Veolia, Waste Management’s largest competitor in southeastern Wisconsin. While workers become gradually vested over 5 years under the Veolia plan, Fleming said that Waste Management employees would be immediately vested under Waste Management’s plan. Further, the company would contribute an initial $1,000 to each employee’s account and match a portion of employees’ voluntary contributions.

The deal would release Waste Management and its employees from the struggling Teamsters-led Central States Pension Fund. Waste Management is concerned about several aspects of Central States, Fleming said, including the fund’s reliance on current employees to pay for Central States’ past failings. During 2007, for example, every dollar contributed to Central States purchased less than 40 cents in benefits for current employees, company analysts have determined.

“For every dollar our employees earn, they should receive a dollar,” Fleming said. To that end, he said, Waste Management’s offer would plow the company’s Central States payments, plus additional funds, into wage increases and improved benefits.

The wage and health plan provisions of Waste Management’s offer will become less generous after Sunday, the company warned, as a result of expenses the company is incurring due to the strike that began August 26 and other changed circumstances.