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City of Chula Vista discusses trash worker strike, asking staff to look into resolutions

Posted at 6:12 AM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 09:12:30-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) – There was tension inside the Chula Vista City Council chambers and out on Tuesday evening, all centered around the ongoing trash strike between the city’s contracted trash collection provider Republic Services and union workers who are on strike.

The workers are now into week four of picketing for better pay and working conditions provided in a new contract with the company.

“This disappoints the hell out of me. It disappoints the hell out of me that we’ve gotten to this point. The demands are not that far off. You guys are not that far off,” Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said.

Plenty of union workers from Republic Services stood outside, due to COVID-regulated capacity being reached, to listen to city leaders, the company and other members of the company discuss the situation and resolutions to the problem. Republic Services higher-ups detailed how the negotiations had gone mentioning have meetings with federal mediators and informal meetings.

“Now all is, we have met in 15 formal negotiating sessions,” Richard Copeland, VP of Municipal Sales at Republic Services, said. “So at this stage, we’ve remained open and ready to talk to the union. But, after voting down our current offer, the ball is in their court.”

There was plenty of comment aimed at Republic Services and the company’s inability to strike a deal with the union. Some of them coming from the dais of the Chula Vista City Council.

“I think the message that was given very strongly here tonight I hope by me, my colleague, the mayor in particularly was that’s not acceptable. Get back to the table, get your workers a fair contract,” said Councilmember Stephen Padilla.

Both Councilmembers Jill Galvez and Padilla sent press releases and memorandums calling for a self-help option on their contract with Republic Services to be invoked.

As explained in Galvez’s release, when the city would get calls about regularly scheduled trash pick-ups not happening, the city staff would hire outside contractors to pick it up and bill Republic Services.

Padilla’s memo also detailed other steps that he had asked city staff to look into if they were contractually feasible given the strike situation.

“I think what you see is now that we got consensus formal some of those steps outlined in my memo that they’ll be able to take some of those steps pretty immediately,” Padilla said.

It’s a decision along with the words heard in these chambers that some of these union workers feel can help push pen to paper on an agreement.

“I’m very happy [with] what I heard from council members, from the mayor, indicating and pressuring them to do so. And I’m hoping that they’re able to come to the table with what we’re asking for,” Dohney Castillo, a Republic Service union employee

ABC 10News asked Padilla why a meeting like this didn’t happen earlier in the strike, and he said that it was a fair critique. But he added there was hope that a deal would’ve been done and needed to develop the options that were presented Tuesday night.