CHIPPEWA VALLEY Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Workers at the main landfill serving the Chippewa Valley are on strike. Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers stood on the picket lines at GFL yesterday.
“All we’re asking for is a better life, something better for us.” Jared Simon and his fellow engineer operators say they want GFL Everglades Holding, the company that owns the Seven Mile Creek landfill in Eau Claire, to improve their benefits.
“We’ve been in negotiations for 13 months and we’ve gotten nowhere with it,” said Simon.
That’s why Simon and the others all voted to strike starting Tuesday night.
“We’re not asking for the world, we’re just asking for fair wages, fair benefits,” said Simon.
Michael Ervin with the Wisconsin chapter of the union representing the operators, says, “fair” would be a contract like what GFL’s union employees get at its landfill in Walworth County.
“The best way to quantify fair is the cost of living for their wages and benefits and a pension to take care of them. Those benefits that care for their families in the event their families are sick and that pension that takes care of them when we retire. That’s what we’re looking for,” said Ervin.
As for Simon, he says knowing people doing the same thing as him, operating machines that push dirt over the garbage and keeping it in the landfill, are getting better benefits from the same company.
“It’s like a kick in the shin. It really is. It’s good for the goose but not the gander. I don’t understand that stuff,” said Simon.
“This is, at the very minimum, middle class. We’re not asking for much more than that. We’re just asking for them to have a good life and, more importantly, have good benefits to take care of their family in the event someone gets sick,” said Ervin.
Ervin says he’s not sure how long the strike will last. That’ll be up to the workers.
We reached out to GFL Everglades Holding, but they did not respond to our questions about the strike, its negotiations, or how it will impact the landfill’s operations.