Press Releases

Sanitation Workers Win Campaign for Reform

Government Agency Blocks Queens Sanitation Company’s Union-Busting Bid

Teamsters Local 813 had charged Planet Waste with Unlawfully Coercing Workers to Give Up Union

The National Labor Relations Board today blocked a union decertification election at Planet Waste, where workers are members of Teamsters Local 813. The Board determined that it appears there was enough evidence that actions taken by the employer had rendered a fair election impossible. The Teamsters had asserted that the attempt to remove Local 813 was the employer’s idea, not the employees’, and workers filed unfair labor practice charges against Planet Waste, of Maspeth, NY.

“We are thrilled that the government stepped in and put a stop to Planet Waste’s union busting,” said Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813. “This was never about what the workers wanted or what was best for them. This was about the company wanting to get rid of the Teamsters so it could take advantage of our members.”

Planet Waste had partnered with a notorious union called LIFE 890 in its attempt to remove the Teamsters and replace the real union with LIFE 890. Workers were set to vote next week on the change. Unfair labor practice charges filed at the National Labor Relations Board accused Planet Waste of threatening workers with termination if they voted to keep the Teamsters, offering them improved working conditions if they changed unions, illegally favoring LIFE 890, and denying Teamster representatives access to the property. It is illegal for a company to initiate a union decertification.

“Planet Waste is using the same union-busting playbook as many other private sanitation companies in New York City. I’m glad the National Labor Relations Board is finally putting a stop to it,” said Campbell. “Sanitation is one the most dangerous jobs and employers often hire workers that can be easily exploited, like immigrant and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. These workers need a strong union like the Teamsters to stand up for their rights and give them a voice at work.”

The NLRB investigated the charges filed by the Teamsters and, in today’s order, determined that “it appears that the Intervenor (Teamsters Local 813) has presented evidence sufficient to support a prima facie showing of the unfair labor practice charge” and that those violations “if true, would preclude a fair election among the employees.” The NLRB still has to issue a final decision on the merits of the charges.

LIFE 890, headed by John Mongello, Jr., operates out of a Bay Ridge townhouse owned by Mongello. The small union and its benefit fund pay Mongello nearly $300,000 a year in salary and rent, in addition to employing his wife and daughter. According to the Daily News, Mongello is the former leader of LIUNA Local 445 and created LIFE 890 through “a scheme to break away from LIUNA and steal its contracts.”

“This is a big win for the Teamsters and Planet Waste workers,” said John Sheha, a Local 813 business agent to the workers at Planet Waste. “The fight is not over, but the workers are showing that when we fight back, we can win.”

The NLRB decision is the latest win for the Teamsters union, which has been campaigning for better wages and working conditions in New York’s private sanitation industry. Earlier this month, workers at the city’s largest recycling plant joined the Teamsters. The union has also worked with environmental allies to improve New York City oversight of the private sanitation industry, through the City’s announced Commercial Waste Zone policy.