Chula Vista council puts pressure on Republic Services to end sanitation workers’ strike

Politics

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Chula Vista City Council turned up the heat Tuesday on waste-management company Republic Services to end a nearly monthlong strike involving some 250 workers serving Chula Vista and parts of San Diego.

“You’re dickering with them at the table over these pennies on the dollar and how does that concern the city?” Chula Vista Councilmember Stephen Padilla said. “Your obligations under the contract are not being fulfilled.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Republic Services had a chance to update the community and city leaders on the status of negotiations.

“I can tell you with confidence that our drivers with their wages, benefits, pension, and their additional allowances for things like tools and belts for of the year, they fall squarely within and in some cases above their essential worker colleagues,” said Richard Coupland, the company’s vice president of municipal sales. “That’s on their current contract.”

But Coupland faced sharp criticism from councilmembers and sanitation workers on strike who came to speak during public comment.

“I just want to let you know this disappoints the hell out of me,” the city’s Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said. It disappoints the hell out of me that we’ve gotten to this point because it didn’t have to get to this point.”

Teamsters also spoke out after 15 failed rounds of negotiation since December.

“Never in my working life has a company made me feel so disrespected, humiliated, and dehumanized like Republic Services has,” commercial driver Donny Castillo said.

Workers have been fighting for better wages, but also improved working conditions.

“Countless injuries, accidents, and life-changing incidents and it doesn’t help that some of the equipment we are forced to use on a daily basis is unsafe,” Caesar Silva said.

The last offer from Republic Services on Jan. 5 was voted down by only an 11% margin. However, the fallout continues until a deal is reached.

No formal action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting, but council went into a closed session to discuss legal options regarding the city’s own contract with Republic Services.

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