Sanitation strike heats up as new rift forms - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sanitation strike heats up as new rift forms

(WMC-TV) - The Republic-Allied Waste sanitation strike is heating up.

In addition to the initial standoff between sanitation workers and the waste company, a new rift is forming between the strikers and the workers crossing the picket line to pick up the slack.

The union for the city's sanitation workers say they are crossing the line against their will.

Police patrolled the South Shelby Landfill amid a sanitation standoff Tuesday.

"We work six days and when you get the check, your six-day check is lower than your five-day check would be. Something is going wrong," said Edward Gorman, Allied Waste worker.

On one side, Allied Waste strikers now wear the same "I Am a Man" slogan as city sanitation workers did in the 1960s.

On the other side of the picket line, security guards and administrators watch closely.

Tuesday, the strike transformed into strikers challenging Memphis city workers not to cross the picket line.

"I've heard about bats being thrown, and rocks being thrown and people being singled out, yelled at, cursed at. Picketers are actually putting themselves in front of the trucks to stop the trucks," said AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Executive Director Chad Johnson.

Johnson says Memphis city supervisors threatened to fire workers if they do not cross the picket line, which puts union members in danger.

He says the city outsourced the coverage to Allied Waste and now pickup is contracted to Allied.

"We do not intend to force any employee to do anything against his or her will," said Memphis Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom.

Gilliom says temporary workers are manning the area covered by Allied strikers.

"It puts the city in a situation that impacts health, safety in terms of sanitary conditions. At the same time, we want to respect the Teamsters strike," said Gilliom.

It is unclear how long the strike will last.

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