Line forms outside landfill as trash collectors continue strike

Local

SAN DIEGO — A long line of vehicles — from private trash haulers to individual residents — formed outside a landfill in Chula Vista Monday as a sanitation workers’ strike dragged on for a second week.

The problem was compounded by the holidays at San Diego County residences that normally have their trash hauled by workers with Republic Services, who are locked in contract negotiations with their employer. The workers are represented by Teamsters Union Local 542.

But could the end be on the way? Speaking to FOX 5 Monday, Teamsters 542 Secretary-Treasurer Jaime Vasquez said a federal mediator confirmed mediation will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday via Zoom. 

“Our members feel that they’re doing the right thing that it was time for them to stand up and demand what’s right and you know it’s a very difficult industry,” Vasquez said. 

In the meantime, everything from Christmas trees and party decorations to day-to-day kitchen trash bags litter the area outside homes, apartment buildings and businesses around the region. Dumpsters have quickly overflowed without regular pickup.

Property managers, HOA representatives and the city of Chula Vista have encouraged residents to “self-haul” trash and recycling to local landfills while they wait for service to resume. Customers who show up at the Otay and Sycamore landfills will be asked to present their Republic account invoice for free disposal, according to the city.

SkyFOX flew overhead the Otay landfill in Chula Vista Monday where a long line of sedans and SUVs, box trucks, big rigs and an occasional Republic vehicle could be seen dropping off trash.

Some buildings have hired private collectors to clear out the mess outside their units. In beach communities, other residents have been seen carrying their trash out to the city’s cans on the sand, quickly overflowing the small public receptacles. Others have similarly misused park trash cans.

The sanitation workers say they are facing excessive hours and harassment on the job. They’re demanding better compensation and working conditions before going back to work. Supervisor Nora Vargas is among the local officials who have joined the union on the picket line and voiced their support for their strike.

In a tweet thread Thursday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who has also joined the union on the picket line, emphasized that Republic was a private company, not the city of San Diego’s trash service. But the mayor said that he was still trying to facilitate a compromise between the hauler and its employees.

In a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune last week, Republic Services said they regret any inconvenience to customers and that they are committed to resolving the deadlock.

“We hope to make progress toward a competitive contract that is fair to all,” the company wrote in part. “We respect the rights of our employees to engage in the collective bargaining process and continue to negotiate in good faith to achieve fair and competitive labor contracts.”

FOX 5’s Ashley Jacobs contributed to this story.

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