- Recology has been brought back into negotiations for a collection contract in Santa Rosa, CA after seemingly not making the cut last month despite intentions to acquire the company which currently holds that contract, The Ratto Group. While it was previously indicated that city staff had narrowed down its choices to Waste Management or Green Waste Recovery, that may no longer be the case, as reported by The Press Democrat.
- Employees at The Ratto Group — specifically drivers, mechanics, recycling and clerical workers — recently voted to join the Teamsters Local 665. The union had tried to organize the company twice before and had more success this time amid uncertainty about the pending sale to Recology.
- As the Teamsters get ready for contract negotiations ahead of the potential and collection contract decisions, they've decided to become more engaged with local environmental groups to advance their labor goals. So far partners have included the Sierra Club, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and North Bay Jobs for Justice.
Recology's exclusion from the final group of contenders for Santa Rosa's next collection contract was a surprise to many, including the company, as The Ratto Group held the contract for many years. Waste Connections and a new partnership called Sonoma County Resource Recovery were the other bidders.
In the meantime, Green Waste Recovery was selected for a 10-year contract worth an estimated $52 million in the town of Windsor earlier this month. That decision came after the town council temporarily reversed course on their decision. The company's siting choices for transfer stations evoked community opposition and led to concerns among city officials. It's unclear whether that contract award, or the lack of public information about the company's current transfer station plans, has played any role in the Santa Rosa negotiations.
However the negotiations in Santa Rosa and other cities where Ratto currently has contracts end up shaking out, the involvement of the Teamsters and these new groups may be a sign that changes are afoot. Sonoma County is seen as lagging behind target to hit California's 75% diversion mandate by 2020 and new strategies to achieve that are sure to come up in contract discussions. This alignment of labor, environmental and social justice groups mirrors what has been happening in Los Angeles — where LAANE was a key driver of the city's franchise system — and New York.