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Trash strike ends | Sanitation workers reach agreement with Republic Services

Following a month-long dispute, sanitation workers vote to end the strike Monday with Republic Services.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Republic Services has come to an agreement with sanitation workers after a final vote was reached Monday to end a strike that has been going on for a month, as piles and piles of trash overflowed dumpsters all over San Diego County. The vote was 137-70, according to the union secretary. Sanitation workers are expected back to work Tuesday. 

Republic Services truck driver Michael Bernardo voted yes to end the strike, telling CBS 8,

"I'm just thankful I have a job to go back to. It's some trying times right now with inflation, cost of living so it is a blessing at the end of this we still have jobs to go home to."

Republic Services released a statement on Monday afternoon after the  agreement was achieved. The statement read: 

"Republic Services is pleased that we were able to reach agreement for a new contract with the union that represents our San Diego and Chula Vista employees. We take pride in providing all of our employees a total compensation package that includes competitive wages and comprehensive benefits.

We thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this challenging time. We welcome our employees back to work and look forward to resuming normal service and cleaning up our communities as quickly as possible."

It had been over a month since a strike started between sanitation workers and Republic Services. Members of the union voted to strike on Dec. 13 following the expiration of their contract at the end of November.

Sanitation workers asked for higher wages, safer working conditions and new and improved trash trucks. The strike led to piles and piles of trash overflowing dumpsters all over San Diego County

On Saturday, the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously during a special meeting to declare a public health emergency, which cleared the way for Chula Vista to legally hire outside contractors to pick up the trash and then bill Republic Services for that work. 

After the agreement was reached on Monday afternoon the City of Chula Vista released a statement that read:

"The City of Chula Vista is relieved that an agreement between Teamsters Local 542 and Republic Services has been reached, leading to the end of a work stoppage that began on December 17, 2021. 

After a little more than four weeks, Republic Services will resume regular service of trash, recycling, and yard waste on Tuesday, January 18. 

Following the City Council ratification on January 15 of the City Manager’s Local Emergency Declaration on January 12, city crews have been working hard to address accumulation of trash in multi-family complexes, which have been disproportionately impacted by the work stoppage. City crews have picked up more than 100,000 pounds of trash and serviced over 200 multi-family units. The City is aware that trash is accumulated in many areas, therefore City Manager Maria V. Kachadoorian will authorize City crews to continue clean-up efforts through the end of the week. 

To report trash accumulation in multi-family complexes, the city will be setting up a phone line and email where property managers can request clean up from city crews and contractors. That phone line and email will be announced on Tuesday, January 18. 

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said, 'I am glad that the strike has been settled and understand the difficult position of sanitation workers as they fought for dignity and respect. I am also so proud of our city crews for stepping up and pivoting from their normal duties to make sure our city gets cleaned up. Thank you to all our residents for their patience through this difficult and unprecedented situation.'"

Chula Vista city crews have picked up more than 100,000 pounds of trash and serviced over 200 multi-family units during the strike.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he was giving Republic Services until Monday to make an agreement, adding the situation was unacceptable and a public health and safety threat. He said his next steps would be to fine the company and further options are suspension and termination of the franchise.

After the vote, Mayor Gloria released the following statement: 

“I join all San Diegans in being deeply relieved that Republic Services and their workers have reached an agreement, ending the month-long strike. I look forward to Republic’s resumption of regular trash and recycle pick-up for its routes within the City of San Diego tomorrow.”

While regular trash pickup resumes Tuesday, Chula Vista council member Jill Galvez told CBS 8 the City of Chula Vista plans to hold Republic Services accountable for its lack of service over the past month.

“I do not expect we're gonna let Republic off the hook at all and will be demanding a full months refund for all customers affected by the strike,” said Galvez.

In addition, Galvez said the City of Chula Vista wants to charge Republic for the extra work city workers have been doing during this strike and will continue to do,.

Galvez said it’s going to take a lot of extra work to clean up all the trash that has built up.

Republic Services released the following statement Monday prior to the vote:

"After numerous and extended bargaining sessions and discussions with several different local and national union representatives over the past few months, we continue to be disappointed in the union’s inability to come forth with a realistic offer for this market. The communities of San Diego and Chula Vista have paid the price of the union’s approach, and we continue to do everything in our power to move the process forward. To that end, we have presented the union with a last, best, and final offer that includes significant increases in wages and benefits in addition to other enhancements to our employees’ total compensation packages. In an effort to finally resolve this long-running dispute, we even included a new and significant financial incentive for employees tied to ratification and agreement by the union."

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