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Report: County to Audit Potomac Disposal, Workers Ask for 'Living Wage'

Potomac Disposal trash collection workers were on strike earlier this week, protesting an alleged immigration threat they say was made after they asked for health insurance and higher wages.

Potomac Disposal workers strike in protest against an immigration enforcement threat on Sept. 9, 2013. Photo courtesy of the Laborers' International Union of North America, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition.
Potomac Disposal workers strike in protest against an immigration enforcement threat on Sept. 9, 2013. Photo courtesy of the Laborers' International Union of North America, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition.
Montgomery County will audit trash collection company Potomac Disposal, most of whose workers were on strike earlier this week to protest an alleged immigration threat, The Washington Post reported.

About 50 of 57 workers went on strike this past Monday, after finding new I-9 (employment eligibility verification) forms attached to their time cards on Friday, the day after workers signed a letter to management asking for health insurance and higher wages. The I-9 forms were perceived as an immigration threat by the workers, most of whom are Hispanic, Patch reported.

The strike continued on Tuesday. On Wednesday, workers—having felt they had made their point—tried to return to work, but were locked out when they showed up for work at the Gaithersburg business at 6 a.m. At 6:45 a.m., a striking worker was hit by a Potomac Disposal trash collection truck leaving the business' property. By 7:30 a.m., negotiations with management had begun, and workers returned to work on Thursday, Patch reported.

Potomac Disposal is one of three trash collection companies contracted by the county to collect trash and materials for recycling. The company serves residents in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Potomac and Rockville, news media reported.

Currently, trash collection truck drivers for Potomac Disposal have no health insurance and make between $120 and $130 a day before taxes. Those who load trash into the trucks also have no health insurance and make between $60 and $70 a day before taxes, Nicole Duarte, communications director for the Laborers' International Union of North America, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition, told Patch.

Potomac Disposal has a $5-million contract with the county. "If Potomac [Disposal] were found to have violated federal or state labor laws, it could be grounds for termination of the contract," The Post reported.

>>>Read more about the county's slated audit of Potomac Disposal on The Washington Post's website.

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