Sanitation workers who serve Corona, Eastvale, Norco and surrounding Inland Empire locations are ready to walk off the job if their employer, Waste Management Inc., doesn’t come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, union officials announced Tuesday.

Nearly 200 WM workers affiliated with Teamsters Local 396 voted in favor of a strike because of the ongoing stalemate in contract negotiations.

“I’ve been a dedicated Waste Management worker for over 14 years, doing my best to keep my community clean and safe,” Luis Barba, a driver at Waste Management Corona, said. “The company doesn’t treat us … as human beings or valued employees. We cannot put up with this any longer. While we are doing everything in our power to avoid a strike, Waste Management needs to be held accountable to a fair contract and bargaining in good faith.”

WM did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

According to the Teamsters, the most recent collective bargaining compact expired in April, and since that time, there’s been little, if any, progress toward achieving an agreement that satisfies the unionized employees, who are seeking increased wages and benefits.

The impacted WM workers operate sanitation trucks in multiple cities throughout Riverside County and San bernardino Counry. However, most unincorporated areas of Riverside County are not covered by Teamsters Local 396, nor are municipalities in the eastern half of the county.

The Teamsters complain that while the chief executive officer’s compensation soared in 2021, front line personnel have not received commensurate salary adjustments.

“Teamsters at Waste Management across San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are sending a strong message that they are ready to do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract,” according to Local 396 Secretary-Treasurer Ron Herrera. “Waste Management needs to take negotiations seriously to ensure that these essential heroes, who work hard to keep our cities clean and protect our environment, get a fair contract,”

There was no word on when workers might resort to a stoppage and take to the picket lines, leaving residents’ trash receptacles uncollected.

Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries has complained that among the county’s four waste haulers, Waste Management has been the most difficult for him and his staff to contend with whenever issues arise with residents’ trash pickups and billing.

The county’s contract with WM and other haulers for retrieval services in unincorporated communities will be renegotiated over the next four years.

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