As trash bags stack up on curbs across King County, residents all over the region are complaining that their garbage has not been picked up for several weeks.
Several cities including Kent, Bellevue and Renton have issued notices on Jan. 12 that trash pickups would be delayed for another week by the contracted garbage collection agency Republic Services due to “a temporary work stoppage led by union members from out of state.” This publication has reached out to Republic seeking comment.
Renton resident Chad Perry said his family has not had their trash picked up since Dec. 16, 2021, and with a family of four, trash bags are starting to pile up in his garage.
When he called a customer service representative with Republic Services, Perry said he was told that drivers in the region are not working to “honor” the striking drivers in San Diego, where the labor strike against the company began.
Perry called the situation unacceptable and a potential health hazard as trash collects in his neighborhood and home.
“So because of San Diego’s strike, the people of our area get the shaft?” Perry asked rhetorically. “[That] leaves a really bad taste in our mouths.”
Ben Wood lives in the Renton Highlands and said he has not had his trash collected since before Christmas. When he contacted Republic Services, he was initially told that inclement weather was the reason why collection was postponed.
When the next collection day came a week later, weather was cited again as the reason why garbage would not be collected, despite visibly clear streets traveled by other kinds of services like Amazon and USPS deliveries.
When Wood called Republic Services to ask if there would be any sort of refund or compensation for the lack of service, he was told that weather conditions were written into the service contract as a forgivable reason to postpone service.
Jenny Zhou lives in Bellevue’s Lakemont neighborhood where residents have not had their trash collected for three weeks. She said Republic Services did not notify their customers of the strike until Jan. 12, even though it is unclear how long the regional strikes had truly been impacting the company’s ability to provide service.
Zhou said she wishes the company had been more transparent, and said people would have understood the situation better if the company had disclosed it sooner.
“Tell us the real reason,” she said. “Because we really don’t know what is going to happen.”
Zhou her neighbors are starting to feel entitled to a refund for services they did not receive. She said some of them had requested refunds, but had not been guaranteed they would receive one.
Republic Services issued statements on the cancellation of the garbage collection to cities in the region and maintained that “affected customers can put out all household waste accumulated since their last pickup at no extra charge on their next regular service collection day.”