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San Diego sanitation workers strike for more than a week, piles of dumpster trash yet to be picked up

More than 250 Republic Services sanitation workers have been on strike for more than week asking for safer work conditions, higher pay and improved trash trucks.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Sunday marked the day after Christmas which meant more trash from all the unwrapped gifts. 

"By next week that pile will be a lot bigger," said Rob Martau while pointing at an overflowing dumpster near his home in Bankers Hill. 

More than 250 Republic Services sanitation workers and members of Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego walked off the job and have been on strike for more than a week. They started rallying at 4 a.m. the morning after Christmas and continued all afternoon Sunday. 

They say they want safer work conditions, higher pay and improved trash trucks.

"We have the fifth most dangerous job in the country and to be doing [it] with poor safety vehicles is not good. The trucks are in poor condition," said Dohney Castillo, a driver for Republic Services.

So what will it take for them to come to an agreement? 

"A fair contract will provide a dignified wage and pension and contribution and dignity and respect for the job they do," said Secretary of Treasury for Teamster 542, Jamie Vasquez. 

Republic Services sent out a message to customers for the week of December 27 with updates on the delays and other options due to the unanticipated work stoppage. 

Credit: KFMB
Trash in Chula Vista spilling out of dumpsters. Telegraph and 805.

For Chula Vista residents, there will be trash-only services during the December 27 week planned for your regular service day.

Customers can self-haul to the Otay or Sycamore landfill free of charge and will include Christmas tree disposal this week as well. Landfill hours are 7 a.m.  – 4:30 p.m. daily. The landfill will close at 3 p.m. on December 31, New Year’s Eve. Customers will be asked to present their Republic account invoice at the landfill for free disposal.  

Republic Services provided News 8 with the following statement: 

Trash and recycling service has been temporarily delayed due to an unanticipated work stoppage at Republic Services. The company is in contract negotiations with a union representing some of its employees in San Diego County. Those employees are engaged in a temporary work stoppage at Republic’s Chula Vista, Newton, Armour Street and Claremont Mesa locations. Eastgate customers are not impacted at this time. Because of this, Republic is experiencing significant delays in collection service but is working to resolve this situation as soon as possible. Residents and businesses are asked to leave containers out and available for collection, and they will be serviced as soon as this weekend. We apologize for the inconvenience and are doing everything we can to resolve the temporary situation. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Until the situation is resolved, it can be a smelly situation in local neighborhoods.

"It's pretty gross. I've been taking my friend's dog on walks and it's pretty gross," said visitor, Martha Henderson. 

"Unfortunately after Christmas, trash piles up and unfortunately we can't do our job as sanitation workers. What is already overflowed, plus holiday trash that is being added to that, we want to pick it up, believe us, it's what we do. We can't do that if we don’t have a fair contract to work on that backs what we do," said Castillo. 

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