Strike could disrupt trash collection in Camden, Haddonfield, and Winslow Township
More than 100 truck drivers and other union workers walked off the job. Waste Management says it intends “to ensure collection services continue" with minimal disruptions.
More than 100 truck drivers and other unionized workers at the Waste Management company’s facility in Camden went on strike early Wednesday, potentially affecting residential and commercial trash pickups in the city as well as in Haddonfield and Winslow Township in suburban Camden County.
In a statement, Waste Management said it is “disappointed” that members of Teamsters Local 115 in Philadelphia have “chosen to strike rather than to continue” negotiations on a new contract.
The statement also said the company intends “to ensure collection services continue with minimal short-term service disruptions or delays.” Union members said Waste Management hired drivers from elsewhere to operate on some routes.
Officials at Waste Management’s Camden yard could not be reached for comment.
On the picket line along Fairview Street outside the yard, drivers, welders, mechanics, and other union members said unfair labor practices and contract violations triggered the strike after several months of talks on a three-year contract to replace the agreement that expired Jan. 31.
“We worked through the pandemic, and we didn’t miss a day,” shop steward and truck driver Kevin Robinson said. “We want a fair contract.”
“This is the first time we’ve had a strike at this yard since it was unionized 20-plus years ago,” said welder Christian Sharp, who is also a shop steward. “They haven’t been negotiating in good faith.”
In a statement, Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen said he and the city sympathize with the unionized workers and want to encourage the company to settle the contract.
The mayor also said the city was working with Waste Management “to ensure that the city’s solid waste and recycling needs are met in a timely way.”
As of midafternoon Wednesday, City Hall had not received any reports of major service disruptions, city spokesperson Vince Basara said. “Residents can call the city public works department at 856-757-7139 or 856-757-7132″ to report missing pickups, he said.
In Haddonfield, trash was not picked up in the downtown business district as scheduled Wednesday but will resume Thursday “on a daily basis,” said borough communications officer Joana McDonnell.
She said that a Waste Management truck had been operating in the borough Wednesday but that a crew unfamiliar with the area was moving slowly.
“We’re asking people to be patient,” McDonnell said. “We’re doing our best.”
Winslow administrator Joseph Gallagher said Waste Management had “sent replacement drivers from various locations” in the township. “We expect there may be some service delays, but so far we haven’t experienced any.”
On the picket line, welder Tyrone Witherspoon said the company’s wage offers were no match for inflation.
“They want to give us I believe a 40-cent raise,” he said. “What is that when eggs cost almost $10 now?
“The company brought in two busloads of guys to do the jobs we do. ... Jf they can pay them, why can’t they give us a dollar raise?” Witherspoon asked.
In its statement, Waste Management said the company “remains committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are hopeful that common ground can be reached with the union and our employees soon.”