Potomac Disposal workers on strike Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 9 and 10, are looking to head back to work on Wednesday, Nicole Duarte, communications director for the Laborers' International Union of North America, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition, told Patch.
"Nothing has been resolved," but workers will be meeting with Potomac Disposal management first thing (i.e., at 6 a.m.) on Wednesday, Duarte added.
"The offer to return to work is a legal formality," Duarte said. "To be entitled to get their jobs back, they need to offer to return to work. The workers wanted to do this [on Wednesday] because they feel they have made their point that they won't be intimidated by the I-9 threat, and [they] want to sit down with their employer to get a response.
"The workers are meeting with the hope that they can return to work [on Wednesday] and resume productive contract negotiations [for health care and higher pay]," Duarte continued.
"However, they are still willing to strike if that conversation goes badly." The workers will make their final decision on whether or not to continue the strike after the 6 a.m. meeting on Wednesday, Duarte added.
About 50 of the 57 workers for the trash collection company—which serves much of Montgomery County—went on strike Monday and Tuesday to protest an alleged immigration enforcement threat. Last Friday—the day after workers (most of whom are Hispanic) signed a letter asking for health insurance benefits and higher pay, Potomac Disposal management attached new I-9 (employment eligibility verification) forms to employees’ time cards, asking employees to verify their immigration status, Patch reported.
Currently, trash collection truck drivers for the business make between $120 and $130 a day (before taxes), while those who load trash into the trucks make between $60 and $70 a day, Duarte said.
The strike on Monday disrupted trash and recycling pick-up for about 12,000 homes in Silver Spring, Wheaton, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Rockville. On Tuesday, the strike affected about 18,000 homes in the River Road area of Bethesda and Potomac, Duarte said.
Potomac Disposal did provide trash pick-up on Monday and Tuesday, as not all workers were on strike. On Monday, 10 trucks collected trash and recycling from about 8,000 residents, finishing up at 10:30 p.m. On Tuesday, 19 trucks served about 8,000 residents, Montgomery County Public Information Officer Bonnie Ayers told Patch.
"Company owners ... assured the county that they have sufficient personnel to provide refuse and recycling collection services on Tuesday and every day until the striking employees return to work," the county's website reported.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.
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