Sanitation workers head back to the bargaining table

Sanitation workers head back to the bargaining table

(WMC-TV) - After weeks of protests and informational picketing, workers at the Republic Services sanitation company are headed back to the bargaining table. What's the issue? Workers' pension.

Sanitation workers pick up and dump garbage at more than 200,000 Mid-South homes and businesses, but the Teamsters Local Union 984, which represents more than 140 of these drivers, say a contract dispute with their employer is generating a lot of friction.

"They gotta look beyond the company's point of view and look at our families our kids, our wives, things of that nature," said Corey Hayes, Teamsters Local Union 984.

And while the trucks keep rolling, the workers are working without a contract right now.

Both sides say the sticking point is Republic Services wants to change the workers' pension plan.

"We're trying to move them into the same retirement program that our own management team has including myself which is the 401-K," said Roger Lawrence, Republic Services general manager.

Republic Services General Manager Roger Lawrence says they want to move workers into a 401-k company matching plan because Lawrence claims the workers' current pension plan with Central States Pension is headed toward cash flow problems.

However, workers like the Central States plan because the company puts in $40 each week for each employee.

Last month, the workers staged a series of informational pickets to voice their determination.

Informational pickets are one thing but if the company and the workers do not reach an agreement, could it lead to a strike? It depends on who you talk to.

"Who's going to give in this instance? The issue with the Central States pension system is something that we don't want to give," said Lawrence.

Meanwhile, company workers also appear just as steadfast in their demand for a contract that includes the Central States' pension fund.

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