A unionized company that contracts with Montgomery County for trash pickup says it unfairly lost a bid for some of the work to a nonunion company and will lay off workers if the county doesn’t reconsider.
On Tuesday, members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which represents employees of Unity Disposal and Recycling, demonstrated outside the executive office building in Rockville.
Unity argues that while it submitted the lowest bid for picking up trash from homes in an area of Silver Spring, the county awarded the contract to Republic Services. Unity’s final bid was $17.72 per home per month, while Republic’s was $20.23.
Kristin Draper, an attorney representing Unity, said the company takes issue with the way points were awarded to each of the two companies, among other things, and that it protested the decision.
The county’s procurement director, Avinash Shetty, wrote to Draper on May 2 challenging the protest, saying that no irregularities had occurred and that price was only one aspect of choosing the best company to provide trash service.
“The county reasonably believes that it will get more value for its money with Republic,” Shetty wrote.
Draper said the company is awaiting the outcome of an appeal of Shetty’s decision.
Barry Hudson, a spokesman for County Executive Marc Elrich (D), said a contract review committee will make the final decision on that appeal.
“The Elrich administration is committed to ensuring that companies who submit proposals for county contracts have ample, and fair, opportunities to make their case when a proposal is denied,” Hudson said in a statement Tuesday.
Unity has contracted with Montgomery since 1996 and holds several other trash pickup contracts with the county. In 2014, after Unity workers voted to join LIUNA, they went on a 13-day strike during contract negotiations with the company.
The union, which endorsed Elrich during his campaign last year, wrote a letter to him in March, saying the jobs of 40 workers were at stake and appealing to him to intervene. In a letter from Elrich that the union provided, he demurred, saying the company’s protest was ongoing at the time and the process had to be followed.
“Our point is, here, if you had run a fair and proper procurement, the union contractor would have won,” said Brian Petruska, general counsel to the LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition. “We’re just asking them to look at the merits.”