On April 15 two chapters of the local Teamsters union representing garbage collectors for Republic/Allied Waste went on strike in a show of solidarity with other striking workers elsewhere in Ohio. The two groups effectively shut down garbage disposal services for several suburbs of Cleveland, as well as additional cities in adjacent counties. The strike was also taken up by Republic workers in Elyria, Youngstown, and Columbus.
Initially, it was not certain how long the strike would last. Garbage collectors in the Cleveland area participated in the strike out of respect for other workers in Southern Ohio who were striking for higher wages. Republic/ Allied Waste Services local branch had contingency plans in place to ensure that high priority customers were serviced throughout the strike, including hospitals and schools. But after a week or so, the strikers resumed cleaning up the city’s garbage.
The week-long strike left many residents and businesses without proper trash pickup services. Services affected included both residential garbage pickup and dumpster disposals, primarily used by businesses. But thankfully, the strike only disrupted these services for a few days and did not result in a Naples-level trash crisis. Most affected customers were able to have their trash disposed of within two days of the scheduled pickup date, sparing everyone from filling up their lawns with trash. Republic has agreed to offer credits to cities and towns affected by the recent strike, with Parma receiving a sum of $39,000 to compensate for the delays.
Nevertheless, the strike highlighted the crucial role that garbage services play in modern society. Modern standards for hygiene and safety depend on the work of thousands of waste management workers throughout the country who spend day in and day out handling all of our trash. Without them we would all have to resort to burning our trash in our backyards, resulting in who knows how many adverse health effects. So the next time you see a garbage man riding alongside his truck, give him a wave and a knowing smile. Chances are that he has picked up your trash for you at some point!