County leaders urge accountability for missed Waste Management garbage and recycling pickups

Robo calls went out yesterday to Seattle area residents regarding their recycling, urging people to put out their bins even though they would not be picked up. Why? Expressly to allow city inspectors to drive around and note how many containers were missed to determine how much to fine Waste Management as a result of the recent driver's strike.

Today King County Executive Dow Constantine and King Count Councilmemer Kathy Lambert called for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) to conduct a thorough investigation into missed garbage, yard waste and recycling pickups in the unincorporated areas during the strike.

In a press release today Constantine said. “I’m glad that Waste Management and its drivers were able to reach agreement, but we received many complaints from residents about missed pickups. I urge the WUTC to conduct a thorough investigation and to use its regulatory authority to ensure that residents and businesses whose collections were disrupted are made whole.”

In separate letters to the WUTC – the governmental entity with legal authority over solid waste collection in unincorporated areas – Executive Constantine and Councilmember Lambert noted that Waste Management is entrusted with the vital public service of garbage, yard waste and recycling collection, and that thousands of residents, including those in unincorporated areas, were left without garbage and recycling pickup.

“It is important for customers in the unincorporated area to understand that King County doesn’t control waste collection services, because the State of Washington has the regulatory authority,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents northeast King County areas served by Waste Management.

“We need to work very closely with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to make sure our unincorporated area citizens have the same protections as those in cities, and that the same accountability measures can be applied to waste haulers. It also is important for those affected by service disruptions to get better information, and they need it right away,” added Lambert.

Drivers represented by Teamsters Local 117 who collect recyclables and food and yard waste, and who are employed by Waste Management, went on strike for eight days beginning July 25. Drivers represented by Teamsters Local 174 who collect garbage honored the picket lines and garbage also went uncollected.

Customers of Waste Management will be able to comment to state regulators at a public meeting Thursday on the impacts of the company’s recent labor dispute on solid waste and recycling collection services.

The WUTC will hear a presentation from the company regarding its strike response strategy at 4 p.m. and will take comments from customers at 5 p.m. on Aug. 9, in the Woodinville City Council Chambers, 17301 133rd Avenue NE, in Woodinville.

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