After a 13-day strike, followed by two meetings with a federal mediator, trash haulers employed by Unity Disposal in Montgomery and Howard counties have ratified a new four-year collective bargaining agreement. The new contract provides immediate pay raises for all Unity drivers and helpers, increases overall paid time off, ensures that employees who work extra routes will now get paid more for that extra work, and provides a grievance procedure that puts into writing a fair disciplinary policy. “We couldn’t have done with this without each other,” said Unity driver Rosa Avalos. “And we couldn’t have done it without the support of our families, supportive residents along our trash routes, and LiUNA union members from across the region and country who supported us.”
“We stood up and we insisted that we all be treated with respect and paid fairly,” said Unity helper Francisco Fuentes. “We stuck together, we kept our eyes on the finish line, and we now have a new contract that recognizes the value of the work we do, and allows us to better support our families.”
Unity Disposal contracts with Montgomery and Howard counties to provide trash pick-up service to more than 60,000 households.
The new contract provides 5 to 7 percent pay raises to all Unity drivers and helpers in 2015. For many Unity employees, this will be their first raise in years. For the next three years of the contract, it outlines raises tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), provided the counties approve Unity’s CPI-based annual price adjustment requests. The contract also protects two weeks of paid vacation, adds additional compensation for paid holidays, and provides a third week of bonus pay for workers employed more than 7 years.
The agreement also ensures that workers who are asked to work an additional route after they complete a morning route are paid an additional stipend for that extra work. Previously, workers frequently had to work the additional route without additional pay, which effectively diluted their hourly rate, since their pay is based upon a day rate.
“These trash haulers showed great courage and perseverance. It’s not easy to stand up and demand respect and fair treatment on the job,” said LiUNA Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Dennis Martire. “It’s a lot easier when you stand together with your co-workers, and when you have the backing and support of thousands of other union members. LiUNA stood with these trash haulers from the beginning, and our members supported them every step of the way. They now have a great new contract to show for it.”