The Las Vegas-based Teamsters Local 631 union has voted for an authorized strike at Republic Services. Close to 95% of participating members voted in favor of the strike, the equivalent of more than 1,200 people.
Local 631 Secretary-Treasurer Tommy Blitsch commented: "The overwhelming vote sends Republic Services the clearest possible message of how insulted and disrespected our members are by this company. These workers will not hesitate to strike if things don't change in the next three weeks."
The strike vote followed several weeks of contract negotiations with Republic Services regarding worker safety during the pandemic. The Teamsters Local 631 represents workers who service Las Vegas communities and businesses, including its casinos, major tourist attractions and at the McCarran International Airport.
"We have been dedicated workers throughout the pandemic, serving on the frontline to keep Las Vegas clean and safe. This has meant putting our health and well-being at risk. We deserve better than this," said Samuel Bronson, who has been a Republic Services commercial driver for the last 18 years.
Bronson continued: "The company calls me and my colleagues 'heroes,' but they don't treat us that way on the job. In fact, they don't even treat us with common human decency.
“We cannot put up with this treatment anymore. This vote reflects our belief that we deserve better. Republic Services must be held accountable. It's time for this company to bargain in good faith and negotiate a fair contract."
The existing contract remains in effect until May 31. Both parties will return to negotiate another agreement later this month. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the strike could cause significant disruptions in the city’s waste hauling, which would in turn affect businesses across Las Vegas.
The Teamsters Local 631 will be holding a national call on Sunday with all its members who work at Republic Services to discuss to begin preparations and discuss a strategy for the possible sanitation strike.