LeMay looking for replacement workers in case of strike

LeMay Enterprises is advertising for potential strike replacement workers, noting that a “labor dispute is imminent” among its union workforce, which picks up trash and recycling across the Grays Harbor area and mans the garbage transfer station at Junction City.

Darren O’Neil, Secretary-Treasurer for Teamsters Union Local No. 252, confirms that the workforce has been working without a contract “for quite a number of months now.”

“We’re not at a point where a strike is going to happen,” O’Neil said, in an article first reported in The Vidette. “Negotiations are still occurring.”

O’Neil said he was unaware that LeMay’s was actively advertising for potential replacement employees.

“That comes as a surprise,” he said.

Waste Connections, which owns LeMay’s, began advertising for the positions last weekend.

“We intend these to be permanent strike replacements if this is an economic strike,” the ad states, seeking Class B garbage truck drivers, Class A tractor-trailer drivers, mechanics, equipment operators and other positions.

LeMay’s Enterprises holds the contract for every city on Grays Harbor, except Hoquiam, as well as contracts to service the unincorporated areas of Grays Harbor, under the auspices of the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Grays Harbor Utilities Director Kevin Varness said he was unaware of the employment situation at LeMay’s or any contract problems with its union. Varness said that if LeMay’s is unable to have a workforce to staff the transfer station at Junction City, it would also negatively impact Hometown Sanitation, which holds the garbage contract in the city of Hoquiam.

LeMay’s District Manager Jeff Harwood said the company has no choice but to prepare for a potential strike in order to keep up with its garbage collection duties. Of course, Harwood said he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“The company and the union had reached a tentative offer about four to six weeks ago and the offer has not been voted by the membership,” Harwood said. “We’re just making sure we’re in a position to provide service to the community should there be a work stoppage. … Our guys are all out working today. Today is a normal work day at this point in time.”

Harwood cited the garbage strike by Teamsters Union drivers in some areas of King and Snohomish counties last summer as evidence that the company needs to prepare for any possibility. Those communities were serviced by Waste Management Northwest, a different company than Waste Connections.

The strike lasted eight days and resulted in some areas that didn’t get their garbage picked up for nearly that entire time.

“We need to be ready for any scenario,” Harwood said. “We can also ensure by drawing on resources from other companies that we’re going to be able to see to it that the community’s garbage pick-up needs are met should a strike happen.”