By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Sims Municipal Recycling and Teamsters Local 210 has entered into an agreement to conduct a vote among workers on their willingness to join the union. The vote will be held on Friday, March 3, in which all 70 workers belonging to three shifts will cast their vote on joining the union. It is expected to conclude by around 5 p.m. Sims will remain neutral during the process. The voting process will be supervised by an independent arbitrator.
Earlier, over 70% of workers had signed a petition demanding formation of union within the Sunset Park Recycling Facility, which was turned down by the management. In response, the workers had threatened to go on strike. Teamsters had demanded that a new contract needs to be signed between the company and workers, which addresses the grievances and demands of the workers. The agreement now comes as a compromise. As per the terms of the agreement, Sims has ensured that no attempts will be made from its side to influence the workers. Also, workers will be allowed to wear stickers displaying their stance. Further union leaders will be granted access to the facility during the voting process.
The workers’ demand to form union had received widespread support from various corners. Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, had from the beginning, expressed her support for employees’ right to organize and form a union. The workers had also received unconditional support from City Councilman Carlos Menchaca. Finally, the recent tweet by Mayor Bill de Blasio in support of the workers is believed to have forced Sims management to agree for a deal. The Mayor had called upon the Sims Metal Management for fair and quick resolution of its ongoing dispute with workers. It must be noted that a lengthy public hearing, organized by the New York City Council’s Committee on Sanitation, was held on February 28th at 250 Broadway - Committee Rm, 14th Fl.
Meantime, Tom Outerbridge, the Sunset Park facility's general manager, stated that the company is pleased to have reached an agreement with the union on an immediate vote on union representation at the Brooklyn recycling facility. Further, he appreciated the role played by the New York City Council in making the vote a reality. George Miranda, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 210 noted that the developments at Sims Recycling Facility is a notice to other New York City sanitation companies to ensure workers’ rights at workplaces and to put an end to acts of intimidation. He hoped that the workers who have stood up for themselves will be guaranteed due justice.
The workers noted that organizing a union with the Teamsters would help them to secure good jobs. The successful institution of union representation is also expected to ensure safe workplace and fair compensation and benefits to workers. Furthermore, it would put an end to ill-practices such as favoritism and unfair scheduling system and bring in affordable healthcare for families of workers.
The state-of-the-art material recovery facility located at the 30th Street Pier in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was opened in December 2013. Located on an 11-acre waterfront pier, it processes New York City’s curbside metal, glass, and plastic recyclables. The 140,000 square feet facility includes a Tipping Building; Processing and Bale Storage Buildings; and an Administrative and Education Center. The Education Center contains programs for students and the public including classrooms, exhibitions, and interactive demonstration displays.