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July 31, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Waste Management says it will hire permanent replacements for striking recycle drivers

Waste Management announced Tuesday that it would begin hiring permanent replacement workers to take the jobs of striking recycle drivers while Seattle and Federal Way geared up to levy hefty fines against the company for any missed deliveries.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn vowed to return those fines to customers in the form of lower bills, and, on Tuesday, announced that Seattle residents will be allowed to dispose of up to six bags of garbage and yard waste at no cost at the city’s two transfer stations until further notice.

“We understand that this disruption of service has real consequences for businesses and people, so we will not be charging those who bring their waste to a transfer station,’’ McGinn said in a prepared statement.

Kirkland also was preparing contingency plans to create temporary collection sites across the city if service is not restored by Wednesday (Aug. 1).

Meanwhile, Burien’s city manager sent a letter to Waste Management, “urging it to get back to the bargaining table immediately to resolve the impasse before the service disruption escalates from inconvenience into a threat to public health and safety.”

Waste Management did not return phone calls Tuesday, but has begun advertising for workers to permanently replace the 153 striking recycle drivers.

“This is another page from their playbook,’’ said Brenda Wiest, spokeswoman for Teamsters 117, which represents the striking recycle drivers. “They do this everywhere. We anticipated this.”

Wiest said the striking workers have filed multiple unfair labor practices charges against the company. If even one of those charges is upheld, she said, the company would be barred under federal law from permanent replacement.

Teamsters Local 174, which represents the garbage-truck drivers, joined the strike in solidarity, bringing trash and recycling collection to a halt for about 220,000 customers in King and South Snohomish counties.

The replacement action would not affect the garbage-truck drivers, according to Wiest.

No new talks are scheduled, she said, the last informal conversation between the company and the union occurred over the weekend.

“Over the weekend, we let them know we’d be happy to take the pickets down and get back to bargaining,’’ Wiest said. The recycle drivers have been on strike since July 25.

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