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Republic Service employee raises concerns over layoffs

Posted at 5:11 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 21:24:29-04

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With not as much trash to pick up because of many closed businesses, Republic Services, one of the companies responsible for emptying your dumpsters and bins has confirmed it has laid off some of its drivers. That has led to frustration among some of the workers.

Trash is still being collected around the valley, but there’s not enough work to keep everyone working resulting in layoffs at Republic Services. One laid-off worker says they were given this letter two weeks before being let go informing them. She spoke via Facetime on the condition we wouldn’t reveal her face or voice.

“Due to the coronavirus, that’s why we were being laid off because there were no routes,” she said.

The worker says she worked on the commercial disposal side, but with many businesses closed, the routes began disappearing. In response, republic services recently announced a 20-million-dollar charitable initiative that the company says will help their own workers and the community. The worker we talked with couldn’t believe it.

“We were just mind boggled because how are they going to give 20 million dollars in charity when we’re laid off. Where did they get the money, because they obviously laid us off to save money?” she said.

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Republic Services say the $20 million will go to providing meals, gift cards, and additional paid time off if a worker tests positive for coronavirus and must stay home. The workers union, Teamsters Local 631 says it was given a take it or leave it proposal where hours would be cut for employees with no room to negotiate. The union rejected that short-term proposal.

“Their offer would have triggered in effect; more people being laid off and more people having their hours cut,” Tommy Blitsch, secretary and treasurer for Teamsters Local 631, said.

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The union also says it hasn’t seen some of the $20 million help the workers yet the laid-off worker says whatever the company is doing—
She is not seeing the benefits.

“We just want to be treated fairly and we’re not being treated fairly. They don’t care about us, and that’s just how we feel," she said.

The union says it’s open to re-negotiate with Republic Services, if the company decides to come to the table.

Here is Republic Services full statement:

“We are taking proactive steps to keep our employees safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. Given the evolving situation, work is ebbing and flowing, as small and large businesses are temporarily closing and pausing recycling and waste collection services. Given the temporary pauses in service, there is less work available for our employees. We believe it is important to support our employees and their families during this difficult time and provide stability. That is why, Republic Services offered a guaranteed 30 hours of work for everyone who did not have any regular work to do, as well as continuation of current benefits at least through May 2. We believe this is a prudent, short-term decision to preserve jobs for the long-term while allowing the company to adjust to changing local market conditions and customer demand.

We offered the local union (Teamsters Local 631) that represent some of our employees in Las Vegas this same opportunity. Our hope was that the union would agree to this short-term measure to keep all of our employees working during this rapidly evolving time. Unfortunately, Local 631 rejected our short-term offer and so, by law, we were forced to strictly follow the layoff terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement so as to give all remaining hours to senior bargaining unit employees at the expense of less senior employees.

We are proud of the highly competitive wages and benefits that we have always provided for our employees and are especially appreciative of their hard work and commitment during this time. That’s why we introduced our “Committed to Serve” initiative, to support our 28,000 frontline employees across the country as well as local small businesses. That initiative includes meals twice per week for employees and their families that are purchased from local restaurants, and $400 in gift cards to spend at local small businesses. Separately, we are providing an additional 10 days of PTO for any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 and enhanced our medical plans to cover all out of pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19.

As always, we are adhering to OSHA guidelines for our industry. OSHA guidelines indicate the safety measures, including providing role-specific PPE such as gloves and eye or facial protection, that we follow every day while collecting waste and recycling are still appropriate.”