MRF Employees Secure Right to Join Teamsters

Sims’ New York Sunset Park Recycling Facility Workers Vote to Unionise

Workers at Sims Municipal Recycling’s material recovery facility in Sunset Park, New York have voted to join Teamsters Local 210 union in an election overseen by an independent arbitrator.

Image © The Teamsters

Workers at Sims Municipal Recycling’s material recovery facility in Sunset Park, New York have voted to join Teamsters Local 210 union in an election overseen by an independent arbitrator.

The union said that the vote caps an 8 month drive by workers at the recycling facility, which processes all of the materials from the the New York City Department of Sanitation residential recycling collections.

According to the uniono back in December last year the workers informed company management that a majority had signed union authorisation cards with Teamsters Local 210, but the company refused to bargain a contract.

It added that the workers have since filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board alleging a union-busting campaign by management that included threats and retaliation against union supporters.

Last week an agreement between the union and the company averted a strike and gave workers an immediate union vote. The tally was 46 votes in favour of unionizing and 20 votes against. 

The Teamsters added that the workers will now develop their contract demands and, with union negotiators, will begin negotiations with Sims management on a collective bargaining agreement.

The union also said that it plans to set up an interim grievance procedure to protect workers in any disciplinary action.

The City Council held a hearing on growing labor conflict Tuesday.

“When we stand up for the rights of immigrants and workers we build a stronger and more equitable city,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, whose Brooklyn district includes the facility.

José Lopez, a Sims worker and union leader added: “Sanitation is a dangerous job and I am glad to now have the protection of a union.”

Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council commented: “A sustainable city is one where environmental progress and economic justice move forward together. Today’s vote should help insure that the green jobs that Sims has created will also be good jobs for its dedicated work force.”

In a statement Sims said:

“Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR) employees voted today in favor of union representation at our Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility in Brooklyn.  Respect for our workers has always been our priority, and we fully respect their decision today.  We look forward to proceeding to constructive contract negotiations with the Teamsters Local 210.

“SMR is pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Teamsters officials to allow this expedited vote, and we especially appreciate the role of the New York City Council in helping to make this vote a reality on an accelerated timetable.

“SMR has union contracts in many locations. We’ve participated in negotiations at various union locations in the metropolitan area, and have always been successful in reaching mutually acceptable agreements. We have no doubt that, working together, we will reach the same result here. SMR remains committed to providing a workplace that epitomizes Sims’ core values of safety, integrity, and respect for all.”

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