MARYLAND

Potomac Disposal workers plan to return to work Wednesday

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY (NewsChannel 8) - Bethesda resident Josephine Roberts lived in same house for nearly 50 years and says usually the Tuesday trash is gone by mid-morning, but not today.

“It's like one o’clock in the afternoon and the regular garbage can is still here,” she says.

Roberts is one of roughly 8,000 residents affected by a trash collection strike at Potomac Disposal – one three companies tasked with hauling away garbage in Montgomery County.

“It’ll be interesting to see if they do come,” she says.

Workers walked off the job Monday after Potomac Disposal asked employees to fill out an I-9 form. The federal form helps identify employee eligibility based on citizenship or immigration status. The workers plan to return to work Wednesday.

Julio Medina represents the Laborers International Union of North America, also known as LiUNA. Medina says the form came only after union negotiations between Potomac Disposal and employees broke down.

“Friday of last week the company provided each worker an I-9 form stapled to their time cards, okay?” Medina says. “A lot of these workers have already been working for the company for a year or more.”

Potomac Disposal confirmed they haven’t been collecting I-9 forms diligently. The company says a high turnover rate among employees has hindered their ability to collect paperwork and the timing has little to do with contract negotiations. Instead, they say they’re hurrying to acquire the proper forms before the end of the company’s fiscal year on September 30th.

“We understand it is a process of employment,” Medina says. “The only thing about it is that the I-9 is usually provided on the first day of employment -not one year or two years after you've been working for these companies.”

Back on this Bethesda block, Roberts is holding back on the trash talk.

“I'm not really worried about it,” Roberts says. “I just hope they come pick it up but knows? That'll be interesting.”

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