CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A weekslong Republic Services trash strike is challenging South Bay residents as garbage bins increasingly are packed to the brim while negotiations with some 250 union workers stall.
The delay in trash service also is creating a predictable problem for some residents: rats.
“My stomach was turning,” a Bella Sol neighborhood resident, who did not want to be identified, said. “I wanted to throw up. It is like a total nightmare, almost like this isn’t really happening right outside my door. I would say they’re at least eight inches long plus the tail so these rats have not missed a meal if you know what I’m saying.”
She is one of many dealing with the issues of a prolonged strike that began in December when union workers walked off the job to strike for higher wages, better benefits and improved safety conditions. Negotiations have yet to yield a deal for striking workers.
In the interim, Republic deployed a series of so-called Blue Crew replacement workers to pick up the slack.
Trash pickup resumed for residents over the weekend, according to Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, but she acknowledges it’s going to take time for crews to reach everyone.
“Saturday, they made a commitment to me that beginning yesterday they were going to commence picking up trash,” Salas said, “so I just want to make it clear to the public that while they’re doing that, they’re bringing in out-of-town workers that are not familiar with our routes.
“Therefore, the efficiencies aren’t there and there is so much trash backed up that the trash trucks can only handle so much at a time.”
Salas said that while she’s frustrated with the trash problem, she stands with the striking sanitation workers.
“We have learned during this pandemic that people like our sanitation workers that provide services to us and make our quality of life better they deserve a fair wage that they can sustain their families in San Diego County,” she said.
But the issue is far from dealt with. It takes center stage at Tuesday night’s Chula Vista City Council meeting where Salas tweeted she plans to ask the body to consider other options to get the trash problem under control.
One option includes possibly selecting a different company to service residents.
Trash customers are being urged by local leaders to contact Republic Services directly to request pickup. The company can be reached by phone at 619-421-9400 or by email at CustomerServiceSD@RepublicServices.com.