MARYLAND

Montgomery County trash workers strike

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP/WJLA) - Workers with two of the three contract trash haulers in Montgomery County are going on strike.

About 70 workers from Unity Disposal and Recycling in Laurel walked off the job Tuesday, and the strike was continuing Wednesday. About 50 workers from Potomac Disposal of Gaithersburg have also gone on strike.

Potomac workers also struck for three days last month, claiming that the company was making immigration enforcement threats.

The companies pick up trash and recycling at about 20,000 homes a day in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Wheaton and Silver Spring. Unity also hauls trash in parts of Howard County. But county officials say residents should be largely unaffected by the strikes.

A month ago, the work stoppage turned ugly and angry when a protester was hit by a trash truck driven by a temporary worker.

The workers say the strike is all over unfair work conditions, mainly low wages and unaffordable health insurance - in some cases none at all.

“We went to all the negotiations and they haven't budged at all.” says Jacobi Alvial, a trash collector.

"The helpers right now who actually sling the trash are not offered healthcare at all," said Nicole Duarte, Union representative. "Some can get a day’s wages compensation for health benefits, but that is not enough."

No one from Potomac Disposal would comment today, but the company issued a statement defending itself, saying it has met the workers’ demands.

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