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'We already have a rat problem' | Chula Vista residents speak about sanitation strike as trash piles up

The strike is expected to continue around the clock and through the Christmas holiday.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Sanitation workers throughout the San Diego area continued their strike Thursday for better pay and safer work conditions. Union officials say they were negotiating with Republic Services but no decisions had been made as of this morning.

The strike is expected to continue around the clock and through the Christmas holiday.

One of the residents at Harvest Ridge Apartments said a bin that was emptied Tuesday was overflowing again Wednesday. She said dozens of people use the bins every day and with no end in sight for the strike, she’s worried about people’s health and safety.

“It just smells. The complex smells and that’s not right,” said Bonnie Selcho, who lives at the Harvest Ridge Apartments for Seniors in Chula Vista.  

Some residents at Harvest Ridge said they’re frustrated by the delay in their trash pickup due to the strike with Republic Services.

“Well, we already have a rat problem here with the trash overflowing. We have restaurants all along the bottom of this complex. So, you can imagine all that food. It smells, We’re having more rats and it’s a mess,” Selcho said. 

Sanitation workers have officially been on strike since Friday. Strikers said they know people are being inconvenienced and the trash is piling up, but they deserve to be paid as much as other drivers in the area and to have safer working conditions. 

Laderer Hampton said he’s been with Republic Services for 16 years.

“I’ve had two surgeries since I’ve been here. One on my shoulder and one on my knee. I’ve inhaled some type of mold fungus out on a route. I had to be in the hospital for eight days. So, this job is not easy,” he said.

Workers also say some of the equipment they use is too old and some of the trucks they drive leak oil and shouldn’t be on the street. Union officials say over 100 drivers each service 12-13 customers a day in Chula Vista and they don’t stop until the route is complete. 

As negotiations continue, Hampton said they just want Republic to be fair and to show appreciation for the work they do.

“We love serving Chula Vista. A lot of these guys live in Chula Vista like me, and you know, the customers, they love what we do,” Hampton said. 

Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla also released a statement saying sanitation workers are essential workers. He said he supports their demand for change and hopes an agreement with Republic Services can be reached soon.

WATCH RELATED: Sanitation workers in San Diego continue strike (Dec. 23, 2021)

RELATED: Sanitation workers on strike throughout San Diego area

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