GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - Some trash collectors in Montgomery County were on strike Monday. More than 50 Potomac Disposal workers are protesting what they describe as immigration enforcement threats by the company.
"This is back-breaking work," said Jacob Alvial, trash collector. "They treat us like trash."
Workers claim they are being treated unfairly by their employer, Potomac Disposal. They claim unfair wages, no health benefits, no vacation or sick leave - and now they say threats of deportations.
The boycotting trash haulers say they found new I-9 forms clipped to their time cards along with a demand that all employees prove their immigration status.
The union rep admits some employees are undocumented but he says legal status only became an issue when negotiations recently came up for a new union contract.
Monday's strike affected parts of Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville, Wheaton and Silver Spring, and workers say this trash will sit untouched until the company rescinds it's immigration threats.
Meredith Campbell is the attorney representing Potomac Disposal in connection with the recent union dispute. The following is a statement Potomac Disposal is providing to customers:Please be advised that despite the Union's irresponsible decision to strike without notice, all trash collection obligations will be satisfied during the strike. Your trash may be collected later in the day than usual, but it will be collected on your normally assigned day!
Potomac Disposal is disappointed by the Union's decision to abandon our customers. The Union is striking because Potomac Disposal conducted an audit of its personnel files and realized it needed to have ALL employees update their I-9 documentation.
While Potomac Disposal is willing to work with any employee who needs more time to gather the necessary documents, we cannot avoid the federal mandate that all employees provide documentation verifying the employee's legal authorization to accept employment in the United States.