CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Chula Vista’s city manager Wednesday declared a local emergency in the fallout of a prolonged sanitation workers’ strike that has resulted in overflowing trash bins throughout the community.
The strike began last month when more than 250 union workers from waste management company Republic Services walked off the job to strike for higher wages, better benefits and improved safety conditions. Negotiations have yet to yield a deal acceptable to the workers represented by Teamsters Local 542, so picketing continues this week as the trash keeps piling up.
In a proclamation Wednesday, Maria Kachadoorian said the city is aware of numerous issues tied to the work stoppage, including food, yard waste and recyclables “being comingled and treated as trash,” pest infestations, and more than 1,000 trash bins packed to the brim in city parks.
The city also has received 526 emails and more than 400 calls reporting overflowing trash and recycle containers since Dec. 20, Kachadoorian said.
The local emergency went into effect as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. It will need to be ratified next week by Chula Vista City Council. Once that happens, it is expected to be in place until Feb. 18 unless it is extended or canceled before that time, according to Kachadoorian.
But the move comes just a day after a tense council meeting where local leaders turned up the heat on Republic to end the strike.
“You’re dickering with them at the table over these pennies on the dollar and how does that concern the city?” Councilmember Stephen Padilla said. “Your obligations under the contract are not being fulfilled.”
Union worker Ricardo Gonzalez told FOX 5 last week he and others are fighting for a better way of life.
“It’s overwhelming because I just had a newborn,” Gonzalez said. “She’s 2 months … but it’s a sacrifice — not just for me — but it’s a sacrifice for the people that want to be here. It’s not just for us now; it’s for the future.”
Trash service in parts of the community resumed over the weekend, due in large part to the company bringing in a series of so-called Blue Crew replacement workers.
But Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas acknowledged it’s going to take time for them to reach everyone.
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.
Chula Vista City Council will hold a virtual special meeting at 4 p.m. Friday to ratify the local emergency order.