Waste Workers in Southern California Join Teamsters Union

Waste Management Workers in Simi Valley Choose Representation with Teamsters Local 186

SIMI VALLEY, CA (STL.News) On Friday, 189 workers at Waste Management, Inc. (WMI) voted overwhelmingly, by a more than 2-1 margin, in favor of joining Teamsters Local 186 in Ventura, Calif. The Southern California waste workers are seeking improved working conditions, better wages, and stronger benefits.

The vote for union representation capped more than a year-long organizing drive by workers at the company’s Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center and marked the first time that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has approved an in-person election since issuing new voting rules in response to the pandemic in November.

“It feels great to finally and officially say that we are Teamsters. We fought hard for this day,” said Jesus Orozco, a WMI worker and member of the worker-led Justicieros Organizing Committee. “Now, we will continue fighting to bargain a contract that guarantees fairness and respect for every worker.”

The WMI workers provide trash and recycling services in the San Fernando Valley, including Reseda, Calabasas, and Hidden Hills.

“We are thankful for the support we have received from the community, and we are grateful to have the Teamsters standing behind us the entire time.  It reminded us that this was a campaign for justice,” said Jorge Avalos, a ­WMI worker and a leading voice on the organizing committee.  “Now that we are Teamsters, we will continue to fight and win.  We are stronger and more united than ever as we head into negotiations for our first union contract.”

Despite the anti-union campaign waged by the company, the WMI workers stayed united in their campaign to secure a union voice at the Simi Valley facility.

“This determined group stood strong as the company waged a vicious anti-union campaign, going so far as to hire union-busters in a desperate attempt to convince workers to vote against their best interests.  These workers knew better than to fall for their dirty tricks,” said Abel Garcia, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 186.  “It wasn’t only the workers who united against the company’s union busters, but their spouses and children also took part in the fight.  Together, they stood strong for the betterment of their entire family.  I have been a Teamster for more than 40 years, and this campaign is unlike any I’ve ever seen.  It reminded me of when I was a teenager watching Cesar Chavez. This is a victory that will go down in the books.”

Local 186 is already preparing to bargain the WMI workers the first contract. In addition to improved pay and benefits, the workers also seek respect on the job and safer working conditions.

“On behalf of the Teamsters Waste and Recycling Division, I want to congratulate Simi Valley workers on their overwhelming victory at Waste Management today.  Our division is proud of what they have accomplished throughout the campaign for Teamster representation.  These workers now have a more secure future under a strong union voice,” said Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Waste and Recycling Division.

The Teamsters Waste and Recycling Division represents thousands of WMI workers at locations nationwide.