July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Republic Services strike: Mayor hits the streets

LORAIN — With rubbish piling up in the streets because of a week-long strike at Republic Services, Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer borrowed three garbage trucks from Elyria and, along with other city workers, began throwing trash Friday.

“We’ve got trash sitting out across the city and it’s a public health issue,” Ritenauer said after several hours on the back of a garbage truck. “We’ve got to get it picked up.”

Since the strike began Monday, when striking Republic workers from the Youngstown area extended their picket line to Republic’s Carlisle Township facility in Lorain County, trash collection has stalled out across Lorain, Medina and western Cuyahoga counties.

Republic essentially missed collecting trash on Monday and Tuesday until out-of-state workers could be brought in to run the routes normally staffed by the striking workers. But those workers are unfamiliar with the area and the trucks which hoist the carts most communities now use.

“We’re still behind and we’re trying to get caught up,” Dave Kidder, Republic’s area marketing manager, said Friday.

Kidder said Republic only has about 60 percent of the manpower normally needed to service the area, which includes Brunswick.

Martin Jay, business representative and trustee for Teamsters Local 20, which represents Republic workers in Lorain County, said workers are aware of the issues. He said on Friday after learning about the health concerns in Lorain, several union members volunteered to staff the trucks Ritenauer had borrowed from Elyria.

“We’re not going to take pay. We’re not working for Republic Services,” Jay said. “We want to help our community.”

Kidder said he doesn’t know when the strike will end, but that Republic will collect trash over the weekend in an effort to get caught up. The company hasn’t been picking up recyclables or yard waste.

Jay said the strike will continue into today, but he wasn’t certain how long it will last beyond that. He said the union and company are in talks to resolve the issues that spurred the strike in Youngstown that has spread out across Ohio and into other states.

Staff writer Lisa Roberson contributed to this story.
Contact reporter Brad Dicken at (440) 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com .