OAKLAND -- East Bay recycling workers protested in Oakland on Wednesday, citing frustrations with management they say is not improving pay for the workforce.
Waste Management, a garbage and recycling company, made more than $800 million in profit last year but is disrespecting the workers who do recycling for residents of Oakland and other communities in the East Bay, said Craig Merrilees, communications director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Workers, who are asking for a "just" raise, say the proposed 40 cent per hour increase from the company is unfair. Workers in San Jose and San Francisco who do the same work receive $20 an hour, while the protesting workers are making $12.67 or less an hour, Merrilees said.
A large group of workers volunteered to protest in front of Waste Management's local marketing area office in Oakland to make their concerns known to the public. The workers stood in the street holding signs that read "We want justice," and "We want respect," Merrilees said.
One group of workers protested in the morning before heading back to work; they were replaced by a second group in the afternoon. Some workers said they are focused on raising awareness of the issue in the community.
"We believe that we get unfair pay from Waste Management for the job that we do," said Xiomara Martinez, a recycling worker for seven years. "We are here to let the community know that they're not treating their employees the way they said."
However, David Tucker, director of community and public relations for Waste Management, said negotiations have been underway for a while and that the current proposal includes an increase in wages, maintains workers' current health plan and funds their pension program.
"We just ask that leadership allow the membership to review the proposal and let them make their own decision as to how they want to vote," Tucker said. "We have been bargaining in good faith, and we believe we placed an acceptable final proposal on the table."
Although the date of the next bargaining meeting is unknown, Merrilees said he hopes the company will reconsider the offer.