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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Teamsters oppose safety rules at Waste Management

Rotting watermelon rinds, half-eaten hamburgers, stale potato chips and other trash overflowed from bins in East Bay cities as a weeklong lockout of about 500 garbage truck drivers showed no sign of ending. "It smells pretty bad," said Vinh Tran, a resident of Seventh Avenue in East Oakland. "They picked a bad time to stop picking up our trash." Residents in Tran's neighborhood will have to wait until Friday for their trash to be hauled away.

Cities affected by the lockout include Emeryville, Castro Valley, Hayward, Albany, Newark and parts of San Lorenzo and San Leandro. Representatives from Waste Management Inc. and the Teamsters Union last met with a federal mediator on Monday for three hours but said they made no progress.

Union officials stuck to their position that the drivers' expired contract should be renewed as it stands, and the company did not back down on its desire to add new disciplinary measures for safety violations. "It was definitely disappointing," said company spokeswoman Monica Devincenzi. "It was three hours of not really discussing anything."

Union officials agreed. "It was not productive," said Chuck Mack, Teamsters Local 70 boss, which represents the truck drivers whom Waste Management locked out of their jobs on July 2.

The two sides have not scheduled any new talks.