Waste Management Inc. workers in the Oakland, Calif., area staged a five-hour strike this morning, saying the company was targeting immigrant workers who were involved in union activities.
Hundreds of members of Local 6 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union began picketing at 3 a.m. local time at three locations – Oakland, Altamont and San Leandro – according to reports from the San Francisco Chronicle and KPIX-TV (see video below). The union represents recycling, landfill and administrative workers.
Collection workers, represented by the Teamsters Union, did not strike, although they did honor the picket lines, Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the ILWU, told the Chronicle.
Workers walked off the job to protest what they allege as Waste Management’s illegal use the federalE-Verify system, an internet-based system used by employers to check whether a potential worker is eligible to work in the country.
Merrilees said the company is using the system without negotiating with the union and is using E-Verify for employees already on the job.
“Many of the workers, particularly those in the recycling operation, are immigrant workers, and the company has been illegally threatening and intimidating them,” Merrilees told the newspaper.
“They made their point,” he added. “They showed the company that they’re not going to be pushed around and tolerate any more abuse.”
Waste Management did not immediately respond to a Waste & Recycling News request for comment.
Here’s KPIX’s report from one of the picket lines: