Waste Management says it is bringing in replacement drivers from around the country as a strike by unionized garbage and recycling drivers reached its third day Friday.
A dispute over wages and working conditions that prompted drivers represented by the Teamsters to walk off their jobs Wednesday.
Two factors playing into the decision to bring in replacement drivers are customers complaining about their trash piling up and because the company faces possible fines from the cities they contract with.
Renton is scheduled for trash collection Friday. Priority will be placed on picking up at places where leaving garbage out could pose a health risk, such as hospitals and day cares. All customers are advised to put the items out on the curb, but there is no guarantee it will be collected.
Picketers were stopping trucks coming in and out of the South Seattle Waste Management facility Friday. The picket line has been peaceful so far. The union says, given what they've seen at past strikes across the country, they have concerns.
"They're agressive and they're from out of town and our guys know that they don't have their families' interest at heart and they'll do their best to make this look messy and we'll do our best to be professional," said Teamsters spokesperson Brenda Wiest, "We just wish Waste Management would get back to the table and bargain with the community."
Waste Management says it will negotiate, but wants workers back on the job at the same time.
"In this economy, our drivers need and want to get back to work. There's no reason why they should walk the picket line and negotiate at the same time. Go back to work, we'll go back to the table. It makes sense," said Robin Freedman, Waste Management spokesperson.
Waste Management could face penalties if trash isn't picked up. The City of Seattle could fine the company as much as $250,000 per day.
What customers need to know
Waste Management advises customers not to put any waste bins out, as there won't be any drivers to pick it up. They will pick up double loads next week, if the strike ends.
Garbage truck drivers are honoring the recycling drivers' picket lines, resulting in the complete stoppage of service.
About 220,000 customers are affected by the strike.
The striking recycle drivers are with Teamsters Local 117, fighting for better salary and benefits in a contract negotiation that has dragged on for months.
They would like Waste Management to raise their salaries to meet the pay of garbage drivers. With overtime, recycle drivers make about $58,000 a year. If requests are met, they could make as much as $98,000 a year with overtime.
Negotiations between the Teamsters and Waste Management will continue on Saturday.
Allied Waste customers and the King County Transer Stations are not affected by the strike.
Negotiation updates are also posted on the Teamsters Local 117 website, www.seattletrashwatch.org.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee has said they will continue providing service to only "critical" facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes and restaurants, without interruption.
KING 5's Travis Pittman and Natasha Ryan contributed to this report.