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Residents line up at Otay Landfill amid sanitation strike; Mediation expected Tuesday

Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 27, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — People lined up to get rid of their own garbage at the Otay Landfill Monday, as sanitation workers with Republic Services remain on strike.

“We’re ready to go back to work, and we’re ready to go back now, but it’s up to the company to be fair,” said Manny Puma, who works for the company.

Puma and others continued to strike outside the Chula Vista location Monday after hours of negotiations went nowhere on Friday, and an agreement for a new labor contract never happened.

Puma said the workers are prepared to continue their strike until demands are met.

“Safety is a big concern; some of the trucks are not roadworthy, we just want to be compensated fairly, we want to be treated fairly,” he said.

Republic Services sent ABC 10News the following statement on Monday:

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.

The union, Teamsters Local 542, tells ABC 10News a mediation session was scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday.

During the strike, relief drivers continue to pick up trash in some areas. Customers can also use the Otay and Sycamore landfills with their Republic Service account invoice.

Since not everyone can strap up their trash and haul it away, Eric Matos, a longtime Chula Vista resident, decided to help out his community.

He first asked his neighbors if they would like him to take their trash to the dump because he has a truck and trailer.

Next, he extended the offer to the entire community on social media. People immediately started reaching out. Monday, Matos and his two sons geared up their truck and got to work.

House after house, they collected trash in the back of their trailer and prepared to haul it to the Otay Landfill.

“This is not taking away or disrespecting the sanitation workers; I support them; they deserve everything that they’re hoping and battling for,” he said. “A lot of people are very thankful that we’re able to do this, most of it is my son, I’m pretty much the driver, I’m not able to do the labor part of it, so he’s pretty much doing all the work. And my younger son just want him to know what it is to help people you know, to be a good member of the community.”

Matos and his two sons plan to hit the roads again and help more people on Tuesday. They hope more people will join them and do the same.