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A labor dispute at a Salem Township landfill has led to a walkout by 19 workers.

Union officials said Monday workers are on strike because talks over the last year with the landfill's owner, Advanced Disposal, have failed to result in a contract. 

Meanwhile, company officials said they are optimistic about negotiations and reassured customers trash pickup and operations will continue.

Advance Disposal's Arbor Hills Landfill serves communities in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.

Douglas Stockwell, business manager and general vice-president for Operating Engineers 324, the union representing workers at the landfill, said the company isn't negotiating in good faith.

“We stand with our members," Stockwell said in a statement. "For the last year, these workers have just asked to have the pay and benefits that their colleagues enjoy at nearby landfills. Unfortunately, Advanced Disposal has dragged its feet during contract talks and violated labor law rather than treat their workers like the professionals that they are. (Our) members had no choice but to vote to strike after the company kept dragging out the collective bargaining process and refused to offer a fair contract.”

Kelly Rooney, Arbor Hills' district manager, disagreed.

“We were disappointed by the local’s decision to strike today, as both parties have proposals outstanding that do not expire until the end of this week,” Rooney said in a statement. “We have a fair offer on the table that delivers enhanced benefits and wages for the employees. We are optimistic it will help lead us to a mutual agreement with the union.”

Stockwell said Arbor HIlls' landfill operators are paid $18 per hour and have to pay $150 a week for health care. He said their counterparts elsewhere in Metrot Detroit earn $25 an hour with comprehensive benefits.

He also said the union has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the company.

Rooney said the company's top goal is continuing to serve its customer communities' needs while "doing right by our employees."

"We have taken necessary steps to ensure that our communities and customers continue to get the service they need and expect, and we will continue the negotiations in a sincere effort to resolve the dispute," Rooney said. "We continue to believe the parties can work through our differences and craft an agreement that protects both our employees and our business.”   

Since 1970, the 337-acre Arbor Hills has operated as a municipal solid waste landfill.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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