Trash haulers for Republic Services / Allied Waste in Youngstown walked off the job just after midnight Thursday morning following ongoing labor disputes.
The 103 members of Teamsters Local 377 have been working without a contract since November, but the work stoppage may not be directly related to those ongoing negotiations. Sources said the strike was related to an unfair labor practice issue.
No official comment was immediately released by either side.
Pickets are set up near the Allied Waste landfill in Poland Township.
Republic Services / Allied Waste General Manager Douglas Dunn said previously that if a work stoppage were to occur, the company would have a plan to continue to meet the trash hauling needs of the community.
A statement released by the company Thursday indicated, "Republic Services / Allied Waste is working to service its residential and commercial customers." No further details were released.
The work stoppage affects Niles, Liberty, Girard, Howland, Lordstown, Campbell, Struthers and Lowellville and other nearby communities.
A message left seeking comment from union officials was not returned Thursday.
Republic Services / Allied Waste is a nationwide company. The local work stoppage affects crews that provide service to areas of Niles, Liberty, Girard, Howland, Lordstown, Campbell, Struthers, Lowellville and other nearby communities.
Austintown Township Trustee Jim Davis said his main concern is that trash could start piling up at residences and businesses in the township that are serviced by Republic Services / Allied Waste.
"From my understanding, from what I've heard, Allied has said any delay anyone experiences in trash pickup should be minimal, only a day or so," Davis said.
"If something should happen and it would start to be a real problem we would start asking our residents to start looking for an alternate trash collector. Obviously, we don't want to see a pileup of trash in driveways or outside someone's home. But we would work with our residents. It's no fault of their own. We'll see how it goes and hope it is resolved quickly."
Labor contract talks were last held March 14, company officials said. Both sides have said the main sticking point in negotiations deals with retirement benefits.
The company has proposed moving employees out of the Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund and replacing it with a 401(k) program. Dunn said the non-union workers, including himself, already use a 401(k) retirement plan. He argues that the Central States pension fund has been listed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as in "critical status" that is not expected to be solvent beyond 2023.
Company officials said last week three bargaining units representing more than 300 Republic Services workers in Michigan ratified bargaining agreements in which they moved to what officials described as the healthier Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust.
Liberty Township Trustee Jodi Stoyak said officials in her township were made aware of the potential strike about a month ago.
"So I knew this could happen, but I was just wondering when," she said.
Stoyak said she received a call from Republic Services / Allied Waste management early Thursday informing her that the strike was underway, but a contingency plan was in place so there would be no major delay in service.
"I feel confident management will manage the garbage pickup for our residents just like they said they would," she said. "(I'm) hopeful they will either settle or come to some agreement.
''It will be a huge inconvenience to our community as well as to others they service if it's not resolved quickly. But they assured have they have a contingency plan and would be making sure service would continue," Stoyak said.