Local trash strike ends after 9 days

Jesse Abrams-Morely

Striking Teamsters agreed to a deal with local trash companies Thursday, meaning garbage and recycling collection on Northwestern’s campus and in Evanston will return to normal soon.

The nine-day strike ended when the 3,300 members of Teamsters Locals 301 and 731 overwhelmingly approved a five-year agreement with the Chicago Area Refuse Haulers Association, which represents 17 trash companies in seven local counties. Bill Plunkett, a spokesman for the association, said service would resume quickly.

“All that noise you hear in the background is garbage trucks rolling,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “The job of cleaning up the city and suburbs has begun.”

Although residential garbage service in Evanston is handled by the city, trash pickup for apartment complexes and businesses — as well as NU — were affected by the strike. Recycling throughout the city also was halted.

Julie Cahillane, NU’s manager of recycling and refuse, said regular pickups on campus would resume today. NU was able to get through the strike partly because large trash bins were placed around campus in anticipation of the labor dispute, Cahillane said. University grounds crew members have been emptying smaller containers to avoid overflow.

“Despite the strike, I think we were able to handle this pretty smoothly, all things considered,” Cahillane said.

David Jennings, Evanston’s director of public works, said residential recycling pickups would be back by Monday. Jennings said he was relieved the strike was over. “We’ve obviously been doing a lot of extra work,” he said. “It will be nice to get back to normal.”

The city has been picking up overflow garbage outside of commercial trash bins since Sunday. Though Evanston usually does not pick up trash from businesses, Jennings said the city was authorized by a local ordinance to keep its streets and alleys clean.

“We’ve been working closely with the health department,” Jennings said. “(Wednesday) we started doing the extra pickup at the schools.”

Members of the business community, including Gary Seltzer, owner of Gary Poppins, 1739 Sherman Ave., said they were glad the strike ended before the situation got out of control. Most local businesses use companies that were involved in the strike.

“We don’t generate that much trash, but it was an eyesore and disgusting,” Seltzer said. “At least it wasn’t all over the alley.”

But evidence of problems with the strike surfaced earlier this week when Evanston Police Department reported trash bin had been illegally dumped in a rented dumpster on the 900 block of Ashland Avenue. The large amount of garbage involved indicated a pub or restaurant could have been at fault, the report stated.

The Daily’s Scott Gordon, Andy Nelson, Jared Goldberg-Leopold and Dalia Naamani-Goldman contributed to this report.