SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — After a Christmas hiatus, negotiations were back on between Republic Services and striking sanitation workers Tuesday.
The workers have been striking for more than a week now, demanding a new contract with better pay, safer work trucks, and other provisions.
"I think it’s very encouraging that both sides are back on the table as of eight o’clock this morning," Chula Vista councilmember Steve Padilla told News 8, Tuesday.
Padilla, along with Deputy Mayor Andrea Cardenas, released a statement urging both Republic Services and the union representing the workers to resume negotiations sooner than later, after the Christmas holiday.
"They hadn’t been scheduled to come back to the table until sometime next week," Padilla explained. "And obviously, this is a difficult and critical time, this is a critical city service that keeps our community healthy and safe."
As the strike and negotiations happen, people in Chula Vista have already complained of trash piling up for days. The piles of trash are also now becoming a nuisance in other parts of San Diego.
Monday, neighbors in Bankers Hill showed News 8 overflowing dumpsters. In Kearny Mesa, cell phone video shows a trash room at Ariva Apartments with several bags inside. Management at the apartments emailed residents, saying the strike is the cause of the backup and "Please know we are working diligently and trying to outsource additional companies to help alleviate the issue."
"These workers are critical frontline workers who frankly, are part of this community are in this community as well," Padilla said. "Their trash isn’t being picked up, their refuse isn’t moving, their recycling isn’t moving."
Republic has faced and resolved similar strikes before, recently in Los Angeles. Councilman Padilla said Chula Vista's contract with the company allows Republic to negotiate and mediate in an effort to end the strike before any contract issues come into play.
Padilla said he and the city are hopeful that happens soon.
Padilla and Cardenas issued the following joint statement in response to the ongoing labor dispute between Republic Services and Chula Vista sanitation workers represented by Teamsters Local Union 542:
“We share the disappointment of our fellow Chula Vistans with the lack of trash pickup this past week. The strike that began December 17th could not have happened at a worse time for our community. City representatives have been working very hard this past week, including this past holiday weekend, to ensure that Republic Services continues to deliver services as required under our franchise agreement. Despite these efforts, we recognize that full regular service has still not resumed.
Republic Services is required to mitigate impacts and fulfill their obligations under the contract to protect the health and safety of our community. In consultation with the City Manager, she has informed us that city staff are currently working with Republic to assure that, at a minimum, trash is picked up and properly disposed of while this labor dispute remains unresolved. We are also working on getting recycling and green waste removal services reinstated, and developing contingency plans if adequate services are not resumed immediately.
For single-family homes, Republic Services has communicated to the City that all trash cans will be picked up on their regularly scheduled day this week. Please leave your trash cans (the black ones) at the curb for pick up. Until full services are resumed, please do not leave your recycling (blue cans) or your yard waste (green cans) at the curb in order to avoid accumulation of items on the public streets. Recycling and yard waste can be taken to the Otay Landfill for disposal at no cost to Chula Vista residents.
The Otay Landfill will be open Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily. The landfill will close at 3 p.m. on December 31, New Year’s Eve.
Pick-ups for commercial and multi-family customers will occur this week, but it may not be on your scheduled service day. If you have a critical issue regarding trash accumulation, please contact Republic Waste at 619-421-9400.
Finally, we have strongly urged both Republic Services and Teamsters Local Union 542 to return to the negotiating table immediately. We are happy to announce that both parties will resume negotiations beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, December 28th at 8:00 A.M. We encourage prompt settlement on a fair contract to be concluded, so we may resolve this untenable situation. We value the work of our critical frontline sanitation workers — particularly during the time of a global pandemic.”
WATCH RELATED: San Diego sanitation workers strike for more than a week, piles of dumpster trash yet to be picked up