Teamsters confront Bill Gates over sanitation firm’s actions

ATLANTA – Declaring Bill Gates should be responsible for the anti-worker conduct of Republic Services, a sanitation firm he owns one-quarter of, a group of Teamsters in Atlanta confronted the Microsoft mogul at Gates’ speech there on Nov. 21. The Atlanta branch of Jobs With Justice joined the demonstration.

The Teamsters reported two protesters displaying a banner reading “Republic/Allied: Don’t Trash Our Communities” were forcefully removed from Gates’ speech at Georgia Tech after attempting to ask Gates why he refuses to stop his attack on workers and their retirement security.

Republic locked out 80 union workers from its Evansville, Ind., plant in May when they refused to approve a contract that would have trashed their retirement benefits. Meanwhile, Republic gave its CEO a $23 million disability/death benefit package and gave stockholders an extra 7 percent dividend after 2nd quarter profits tripled compared to the year before.

“These workers literally put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health,” said Eric Robertson, Teamsters Local 728 business agent. His local represents Republic/Allied workers in Atlanta. “It’s outrageous that Bill Gates says he supports public health programs, and yet he’s the primary owner of a company that locks out its workers and creates public health crises.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.