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Chula Vista City Council may declare a public health emergency due to the sanitation strike

Chula Vista's mayor said she’s frustrated about what she called a fight over pennies between Republic Services and sanitation workers.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Chula Vista’s City Council says they may declare a public health emergency to address the challenges the city is facing because of the sanitation strike.

It’s been 26 days since sanitation workers went on strike and with frustrations at an all-time high, there’s one thing everyone agreed on: the strike needs to end now. 

People on both sides of the sanitation strike debate made their voices heard at Tuesday’s Chula Vista City Council meeting.

“Have a backup plan. If these guys walk off the job, they are fired that day,” said one Chula Vista resident during the public hearing session.  

Executives from Republic Services also spoke about the efforts they’ve made to find a resolution.

“As of today, we have over a hundred Blue Crew members in the market, running over 41 markets in Chula Vista alone, which represents a 100% of our normal MSW or trash operations," said Republic Services General Manager in San Diego Matt Cross. 

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said she’s frustrated about what she called a fight over pennies between Republic Services and the sanitation workers.

“To me, it didn’t seem unreasonable that the Teamsters request on their initial raise of $2 an hour and Republic was offering $1.90. That’s a .10 cents difference. For a multi-billion dollar corporation whose profits have increased over 24% over the last year, and a dime difference the first year. I don’t call that an astronomical difference,” Salas said.

Council members also expressed their disappointment with Republic’s inability to fully service its customers and the impact of the failed negotiations.

“What disturbs me is that some of the workers that you’re arguing over pennies on the dollar over, who struggle every day to fulfill a critical service in the middle of a pandemic in the working-class communities are suffering,” said Steve Padilla, Chula Vista Council Member, District 3. 

“Right now, we’re beginning to see a vector issue with rats and vermin and crows attacking trash bags. It’s absolutely unacceptable,” said Jill Galvez, Chula Vista Council Member, District 2.  

Galvez said declaring a public health emergency will clear the way for Chula Vista to legally hire outside contractors to pick up the trash and then bill Republic Services for that work.

WATCH RELATED: Chula Vista Mayor on sanitation strike: 'They have wages that are not sustainable in San Diego

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