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Garbage piles up in San Diego, Chula Vista as strike negotiations continue

2021 12 30 TRASH STRIKE 01
Matthew Bowler
Teamsters Local 542 members walk the picket line in front of Republic Services offices in San Diego, Dec. 30, 2021.

The strike by trash truck drivers for Republic Services has reached two weeks, with no signs that negotiations are making progress. Now, the city of San Diego wants residents with trash piling up to contact the company for pickup services.

The city released a statement Thursday saying to protect public health, residents impacted by the labor strike should contact Republic Services to schedule a collection.

Republic Services has set up an email account specifically to address individual pick-up requests:


RELATED: Bargaining between union, Republic Services over trash strike continues

Meanwhile, sanitation workers continue walking the picket line outside company offices.

Michael Bernardo, a driver with the company for eight years, said he just wants to get back to work.

“We’re hoping for something positive at this point. We just want to get back to work, we want to service our communities and clean up the area,” Bernardo said.

2021 12 30 TRASH STRIKE 04.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Teamsters Local 542 walk the picket line in front of Republic Services offices in off of Clairemont Mesa Blvd in San Diego on December 30, 2021.

As days of mediation go nowhere, the more than 200 striking sanitation workers are feeling more and more undervalued.

“We were heroes when the pandemic was in full force and now that it’s time to negotiate our contract, it almost feels like we’re zeroes,” Bernardo said.

Jose Martinez worked for the company for 40 years. He’s now retired, but he continues to march along with his friends. He said they deserve more.

“It's always been the same. They try to pay less, pay less, I’ve passed through so many contracts and this is getting worse with everybody,” Martinez said.

Garbage Piles up as negotiations go nowhere

Negotiations aren't going well, said Robert Moreno, a trustee with Teamsters Local 542, the drivers’ union.

“These guys have been out here for 14 days. I mean if they were negotiating, these guys would be back to work already, but they’re not,” he said.

Moreno said they’re not accepting anything less than what they know they deserve.

“If that’s the case we’ll be here as long as we need to be,” he said.

Republic Services told KPBS they are continuing mediation this week, but that drivers’ demands for wage increases are not realistic.