Trash piles up as Republic Services union workers strike enters fifth day

Business

SAN DIEGO – Mountains of trash are growing at apartment complexes and businesses across San Diego.

More than 250 union workers of Republic Services have been striking for the past five days over contract negotiations. In the interim, it means that trash hasn’t been picked up for five days in many parts of the community.

Trash is shown piling up out of a dumpster on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. More than 250 union workers for Republic Services walked off the job late last week as part of a strike for better working conditions. (Photo by Assad Khalilzadeh, FOX 5)

“It’s pretty gross,” Clairemont resident David Hahn said. “Yesterday, I went to take some stuff in there and it was completely full so I actually had to get in there. I’m not afraid to get dirty, I guess, but I shouldn’t have to.”

Union workers walked off the job Friday to demand better working conditions. They said they want the company to address long work hours and harassment on the job. Because the two parties were not able to reach an agreement this month, the Teamsters Local 542 Union decided to strike and have been picketing at five locations in San Diego County.

Some people support the strike including San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas.

“They have served our communities well and I call on Republic Services to do the right thing this holiday season,” Vargas said in a tweet after standing with workers from Teamsters Local 542.

But as the trash keeps coming, residents say they’re concerned about potential health hazards stemming from the strike.

“Probably the rats or things like that can start coming because of the food,” Clairemont resident Juliana Franco said.

With the Christmas holiday just a few days away, bins will only get fuller.

“It’s kind of the worst time of the year,” Hahn said. “Everyone is ordering stuff online and repackaging that and next week is Christmas so there is just going to be so much more.”

“I don’t really want to start littering or anything so I guess I’ll go to the dump and pay them and maybe send [Republic Services] the bill.”

Other property managers are turning to other services and hiring junk haulers.

It’s unclear how long sanitation workers plan to strike or when Republic Services will plan to meet again for contract negotiations.

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