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Bargaining between union, Republic Services over trash strike continues

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Matthew Bowler
Teamsters Local 542 striking in front of Republic Services in Otay Ranch over stalled contract negotiations, Dec 27, 2021.

Chula Vista and the neighborhood of Clairemont are overflowing with trash. That’s because sanitation workers are on day 12 of a strike.

More than 200 Republic Services workers across the county are fighting for a fair contract.

Their union, Teamsters Local 542, sat at the bargaining table with Republic Services on Friday, but they failed to reach an agreement.

“To me it was very disrespectful, it was kind of a slap in the face,” said Dohney Castillo, a Republic Services driver for five years.

“It's not moving anywhere, but hey we are gonna be here until we have a fair contract on the table that we believe is fair for us,” he said.

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MATTHEW BOWLER
At this apartment complex off of East Palomar in Otay Ranch the trash overflows into the parking lot while Teamsters Local 542 strikes because of stalled contract negotiations with Republic Services, December 27, 2021.

Since workers went on strike on Dec. 17, residents and business owners who rely on trash pickup have been out of luck.

Some neighborhoods are starting to see their garbage pile up.

“The trash is overflowing,” said Chula Vista resident Ricardo Ochoa, who's also an attorney who represents local unions.

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Matthew Bowler
Father and son Chula Vista residents Ricardo Ochoa (right) and Noah King (left) walked the picket line with the Teamsters Local 542 to show support for the strike against Republic Services in Otay Mesa, December 27, 2021.

He said the overflowing trash at his apartment building is unsanitary. But despite his frustration, he and his son held picket signs and marched in solidarity with the sanitation workers Monday morning.

“They’re putting their job on the line at a time when they should be home with their families and the rain that’s coming later today. That’s always something you want to show support for,” he said.

The driver Castillo said Republic Services brought in outside help while contract negotiations continue.

“As of right now they are bringing other workers from other parts of the country, other states,” he said.

In a statement to customers Republic Services said they are ready to return to the bargaining table on Tuesday.



"Republic Services is ready to return to the bargaining table tomorrow to continue negotiations for a contract that is fair for all. Unfortunately, the union’s wage demands are not in line with current local market rates. Although Republic drivers’ average wages are already highly competitive with wages paid by other haulers in the San Diego area, the union is demanding significant increases that simply do not reflect our local market. We take pride in providing all of our employees a total rewards package that includes competitive wages and comprehensive benefits. With the help of our Blue Crew relief drivers, we have worked hard to return regular collection service to many neighborhoods and continue to make progress servicing our customers. Republic is grateful to our customers for their continued patience and understanding." -Republic Services Media Relations
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Teamsters Union Local No. 542 hands out flyers to Chula Vista residents on December 27, 2021.

Meanwhile, residents who have been dealing with overflowing garbage have been given the option to take their trash to the landfill.

Castillo said that's unacceptable.

"They're paying the city to have Republic Services pick up their trash. They shouldn't have to take the trash to to the landfill themselves," he said.

Union representatives handed out flyers to residents heading to the landfill Monday.

They asked residents to put pressure on the city of Chula Vista to hold Republic Services Accountable.

Republic Services prepares to return to bargaining table Tuesday as strike continues