by Photo by Fanny Miller

A rally held by Teamsters Local 542 union on Sunday began at 4 a.m. and continued throughout the day to call for safer working conditions and better pay for Republic Services sanitation workers. 

It has been nearly two weeks since over 250 Republic Services Sanitation workers and members of Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego went on strike. The workers for the Phoenix-based company addressed workplace safety concerns, excessive labor, harassment and wages. 

“We are here in solidarity, making sure public work that is being done, is being done in a way that the workers are being respected," Georgette Gomez, former council president of the city of San Diego said.

Many residents and businesses have been impacted by the uncollected trash that has been mounting in areas of Chula Vista and San Diego’s Clairemont Mesa neighborhood. Until further notice, customers can take their trash to the Otay Landfill in Chula Vista or Sycamore Landfill in Santee.

"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, driver for Republic Services.

According to Jaime Vasquez, Secretary-Treasurer for the Union, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria reached out to both sides to move up a mediation session initially scheduled for next week to Friday. However, the company did not make an offer. 

"A fair contract will provide a dignified wage and pension and contribution and dignity and respect for the job they do," Vasquez said. 

Republic Services said in a statement Sunday that they were "disappointed that the parties did not reach an agreement on a new labor contract during our Christmas Eve negotiations with the union."

"Republic will continue to negotiate in good faith for a fair and competitive contract so that we can resume waste and recycling collection in San Diego County and Chula Vista as soon as possible. We are doing everything within our power to resume normal service and continue to thank customers for their patience and understanding," Republic Services said.

The city of Chula Vista announced in a Dec.27 update of the continued service delay due to the strike. The city said commercial and multi-family customers may anticipate trash pick-ups this week, but it may not be on the scheduled service day. 

Those who are residential and single family customers are advised to put their black trash cart out for their scheduled service day. The option to self-haul trash to any of the two landfill locations remains. The city added Christmas Tree disposal will be included this week at the landfills. 

Republic Service has instructed customers to do the following:  

  • Bring your waste cart out on your assigned collection day.
  • Place excess trash in bags on the side of the trash bin.
  • Leave the bin on the sidewalk even if it is full. It will be picked up "as soon as possible."
  • During this time the yard waste, recycling and collection of large objects will be suspended.


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