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Montgomery Co. investigates practices of trash companies

Thursday - 9/12/2013, 1:38pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Montgomery County is investigating the labor practices of companies it pays to haul trash.

A strike by workers for Potomac Disposal put the spotlight on the labor practices of that company, and now it and two other contractors, Unity Disposal and Recycling of Laurel and Ecology Services of Columbia, have been put on notice. They will be audited to see whether they are complying with Montgomery County's "living wage" provisions.

Under Montgomery County's Living Wage provision, employees of businesses who contract with Montgomery County should earn at least the equivalent of $13.95 an hour.

David Dise, director of general services for Montgomery County, said in a letter to the county council, the contractors will be notified Thursday.

In the letter, Dise said that violations of the law "can ultimately result in civil penalty, contract termination, and debarment."

The employees at Potomac Disposal struck for higher wages and health benefits. They returned to work Thursday. Potomac Disposal has not commented to WTOP.

Dise also told the council, "In addition, we are concerned with allegations of harassment and initimidation of workers in connection with exercising their federally-guaranteed rights to organize and bargain collectively."

Violations of federal labor laws can also trigger a breach of contract and contract termination, according to Dise.

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WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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