Teamsters and Sims Reach Agreement on Path to Union
Workers Will Vote Friday, Company Agrees to be Neutral
Teamsters Local 210 announced today that it had reached an agreement with Sims Municipal Recycling on an expedited path to union recognition at its Sunset Park facility. The signed agreement sets an election for Friday, March 3rd and commits Sims to remain neutral. The agreement will be enforced by an independent arbitrator.
“We stood our ground and fought for a fair process, free of intimidation, and now we have it,” said Jordy Lopez, a Sims recycling worker and leader in the union organizing drive. “We are excited to vote tomorrow and look forward to bargaining a contract that ensures respect and good jobs for Sims workers and are humbled by the support we have received.”
“These workers showed that when you stick together, you win,” said George Miranda, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 210. “At a time when immigrant workers across the country are under attack, it is inspiring to see Sims workers standing up for themselves and getting justice. This is a notice to other New York City sanitation companies that workers will have a real voice on the job and be free of employer intimidation.”
“Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Council Sanitation Chair Antonio Reynoso, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca for supporting Sims workers in their fight for justice,” Miranda added.
The Brooklyn facility processes all of the residential recycling collected by the New York City Department of Sanitation. Workers informed company management in December that a majority had signed union authorization cards with Teamsters Local 210, but the company refused to bargain a contract. The workers have since filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board alleging a union-busting campaign by management that included threats and retaliation against union supporters. The City Council held a hearing on growing labor conflict Tuesday.
“This agreement shows that we don’t have to choose between good jobs and sustainability,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, whose Brooklyn district includes the facility. “I have met several times with the Sims workers and am inspired by their stories. I congratulate them on this big step toward a union and what it means for protecting immigrant workers in our Sanctuary City.”
The agreement stipulates that Sims will not attempt to influence the vote through any “speeches, one-on-one meetings, distribution of literature, organized get-out-the-vote campaigns, or other activities intended to influence the free choice of the employees.” The company also agreed to allow workers to wear stickers expressing their position and to allow union organizers access to the facility.
The Teamsters Union and its many New York City locals represent thousands of sanitation workers at the New York City Department of Sanitation, private carting companies, and at waste and recycling facilities. The union and its allies in the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition are working to raise standards throughout New York’s sanitation industry, both for workers and the communities they operate in.
“This is a big win for New York’s private sanitation workers,” said Brigid Flaherty, Organizing Director of ALIGN. “Our city expects sanitation companies to meet our goals for both good jobs and sustainable practices and this agreement can serve as a model for protecting the workers who protect our environment.”
“We are proud to see this victory for our friends in labor,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “The people of color and immigrants who work in the recycling industry are also a part of our communities, and deserve the protections that a strong union affords them.”