The Stand

Ridwell employees join with Teamsters 117

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The following is from Teamsters Local 117:

TUKWILA (Nov. 28, 2022) — In an overwhelming majority, a group of more than 50 employees at Ridwell has voted to join Teamsters 117. The drivers and warehouse workers, who collect hard-to-dispose-of materials from homes in King and Pierce counties, came together to gain a voice at work and address concerns over wages, benefits, and working conditions. With this vote, the workers become the first unionized employees at Ridwell.

“We are excited to welcome Ridwell employees to the Teamsters,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “These workers provide an invaluable service to their communities and the environment by handling dangerous materials while exposed to the elements. With Ridwell being an employer whose focus is environmental protection, we look forward to helping these new Teamsters negotiate a strong contract that offers them protections and fair treatment as well. It’s only when we fight for labor rights and environmental sustainability that we are able to build a fair and just future for workers.”

Ridwell is a recycling start-up that focuses on responsibly reusing and disposing of hard-to-recycle items like batteries, lightbulbs, and plastic film. Since its founding in Washington state in 2018, Ridwell has expanded to California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, and Texas.

“I have been working at Ridwell for over a year,” said Baylie Freeman, a driver at Ridwell who was part of the union organizing committee. “I want a union so we can have a say in our experiences and conditions. I want safety for everyone, respect for our time and schedule, and fair wages.”

Since the workers began organizing, Ridwell has remained neutral on the question of unionization saying they will respect the choice of their employees.

“Ridwell is an example of a conscientious employer that respects their workers’ decision to stand in solidarity and join a union,” Scearcy said. “They set an excellent example, which worker-exploiting and union-busting industry giants like Amazon and Starbucks should follow.”

“It’s us, the drivers and warehouse staff, who make Ridwell run,” said Keegan Ditto, a warehouse worker who has been at Ridwell since September 2020. “I want us to have the right to negotiate a union contract, which will give us a say in our wages, benefits and working conditions.”

Teamsters Local 117 represents 17,000 Washington workers in diverse industries, over 350 of which work in the waste and recycle industry serving King County and surrounding areas.

 


Want a say on your wages and working conditions? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

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