Waste Management: Teamster Talks Fail, Union’s Deteriorating Pension Fund Remains Primary Issue

MILWAUKEE — Waste Management officials said a ten-hour meeting on Saturday under the supervision of a federal mediator with representatives of Teamsters Local 200 failed to produce an agreement to end the current strike in the Milwaukee area. Union representatives refused Waste Management’s request to withdraw from the Teamster’s failing Central States Pension Fund despite their acknowledgement the Fund is posting record losses.

According to spokesperson Bill Plunkett, “The company is extremely disappointed the Teamsters failed to consider pension fund alternatives that would protect their members’ retirement security. Union officials appear more concerned about saving a sinking pension fund than protecting the pensions of Waste Management employees.”

The meeting ended with union representatives inexplicably seeking a September 5 meeting in Chicago. The company is working with the federal mediator in an attempt to schedule a future meeting in Milwaukee where the company, the mediator and union are located.

The security of Waste Management worker retirement benefits, currently controlled by the Teamsters-managed multi-employer Central States Pension Fund, remains the key issue for the company, Waste Management officials said.

The company is seeking to withdraw from the Central States Pension Fund, which is currently in “critical status” due to investment losses and reductions of workers paying into the fund. Waste Management has offered the Teamsters alternative proposals that would secure and protect Waste Management employees’ retirements.

Waste Management is prepared to protect its employees’ retirement by withdrawing from the pension fund, making them whole to date, and putting them in another mutually-agreed upon retirement vehicle going forward.

The Central States Pension Fund has told the federal government that it is in “critical status.” The fund started 2008 with a $12 billion shortfall. It has lost $3 billion more in the first six months of this year.

Over 60 percent of every dollar Waste Management pays into the pension fund goes to current expenses instead of being used to pay for the future retirement of Waste Management employees. The Company wishes 100 percent of its contributions to its employees’ retirement to go to its employees.

Meanwhile, Waste Management said a team of employee drivers and others brought in after the Teamsters’ walkout began Tuesday completed about 90 percent of the past week’s residential waste and recycling routes by Saturday. The company advised customers residing in more rural areas that it would collect their waste on their next collection day.

The company noted that because of the Labor Day holiday Monday, all residential waste collection would be delayed one day next week.

CONTACT: Bill Plunkett for Waste Management, +1-708-246-8378,