Brooklyn Sanitation Workers Organize Union Contract

Brooklyn sanitation workers, pictured here, successfully negotiated their first union contract.

Sims Municipal Recycling workers negotiated their first union contract in New York City, which authorizes raises, vacation time and medical improvements.

Workers at the Sims Municipal Recycling in Brooklyn, New York, successfully negotiated, voted and approved their first union contract.

The new contract negotiates raises, better health care coverage and costs, higher education support and additional vacation time.

Workers Advocate for the Rights They Want

In December 2016, sanitation workers approached management at Sims Muncipal Recycling, and informed them a majority had signed union authorization cards with Teamsters Local 210. Company officials, however, refused to consider or bargain a contract.

Without any other options, workers threatened to go on strike, which would have caused a severe problem for the city by shutting down the recycling program. Workers traveled to the city council to air their grievances as well.

It worked. In March, Sims agreed to remain neutral and allow sanitation workers to join the union after a successful vote among employees.

We worked so hard to get to this point, but it was worth it,” José Lopez, a Sims worker and union leader, said in a press release. “This contract ensures that the workers who recycle New York City’s waste will be treated with respect and will be able to take care of their families. We are proving that immigrants can win justice through solidarity, even in Trump’s America.”

Better Benefits, More Support Gained

The union contract guarantees a number of benefits for Sims workers including annual raises, lowered health care costs and additional vacation time.

The contract also provides protections for workers against discrimination based on their gender, race, ethnicity, country or origin or union activity, as well as have access to union representation during disciplinary procedures.

Congratulations to the Sims workers. This is a major victory for immigrant workers and their families, as well as for the advancement of workers rights,” City Council Sanitation Committee Chair Antonio Reynoso said. “It’s a big win for a more sustainable sanitation system, and I am proud to have supported them in this fight.”