SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An agreement between sanitation company Republic Services and the union representing its workers was reached Monday, bringing an end to the weeks-long strike that impacted trash service in Chula Vista and some parts of the city of San Diego.
Republic Services confirmed the agreement, stating: "Republic Services is pleased that we were able to reach agreement for a new contract with the union that represents our San Diego and Chula Vista employees. We take pride in providing all of our employees a total compensation package that includes competitive wages and comprehensive benefits. We thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this challenging time. We welcome our employees back to work and look forward to resuming normal service and cleaning up our communities as quickly as possible."
Union representatives told ABC 10News that workers would receive a pay raise, with the current rate going from $24.60 to $26.50. Pay increases would occur over the next four years, the union said.
- $1.90 in the first year
- 50 cents in the second year
- 50 cents in the third year
- 50 cents in the fourth year
- $1.50 in the fifth year
A $1,000 signing bonus was also part of the agreement, ABC 10News learned.
“It’s their voice who decided to go back and clean up the cities. It was them who decided that the offer that was presented in this moment and place and time is sufficient for them,” Jamie Vasquez, the Secretary-Treasurer Teamsters Local 542, said.
Trash service was expected to resume on Tuesday. A moment some local elected officials have been waiting for to hear.
“Relief. Cautiously optimistic,” Councilmember Steve Padilla, City of Chula Vista, said.
“Oh! We were so relieved to hear that a deal was struck,” Councilmember Jill Galvez, City of Chula Vista, said.
San Diego's Environmental Services Department provides waste collection to single-family residences, but not businesses, multi-family residences and private streets in the city. Those are serviced by private franchise waste haulers including Republic Services. Members of the union voted to strike on Dec. 13 following the expiration of their contract at the end of November.
On Sunday, Republic gave the striking workers its "last, best and final offer that includes significant increases in wages and benefits in addition to other enhancements to our employees' total compensation packages," according to a statement from the company. The offer also included a "new financial incentive for employees tied to ratification and agreement by the union."
Mayor Todd Gloria said last week San Diego was considering fines, coming after the company's performance bond and "asking the city council for authorization to seek an injunction to force compliance with terms of the agreement, which include weekly pickup and recycling of green and solid waste," if an agreement wasn't reached and services didn't resume. The option to suspend or terminate the city's franchise agreement with Republic was also a possibility, the mayor said.
In Chula Vista, City Manager Maria Kachadoorian declared a public health emergency, which was quickly ratified by the city council. The declaration would have allowed the city to hire contractors to collect the refuse and bill Republic Services.
In a statement, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said, “I am glad that the strike has been settled and understand the difficult position of sanitation workers as they fought for dignity and respect. I am also so proud of our city crews for stepping up and pivoting from their normal duties to make sure our city gets cleaned up. Thank you to all our residents for their patience through this difficult and unprecedented situation.”
Galvez also told ABC 10News that the City of Chula Vista is still looking to any possible fines or penalites against Republic Services.
"We're not letting Republic off for one moment. The workers are going back tomorrow as far as we understand,” Galvez said.
“But, it's still our responsibility to fine Republic Services for trash that's not collected and also to demand bill credits for the full month of December that trash was not picked up according to our contract."
Chula Vista city crews have picked up more than 100,000 pounds of trash and serviced over 200 multi-family units during the strike.
This situation may have also impacted how some government officials see these companies they contract with and their relationships with their workforce.
"It's really important that when you do business with a public entity that you espouse and practice a corporate culture that values the dignity of workers,” Padilla said.
"I, for one, am going to be looking carefully at this long-term relationship and making sure that the folks that the city is doing business with practice that kind of value system."
To report trash accumulation in multi-family complexes, Chula Vista will be setting up a phone line and email where property managers can request clean up from city crews and contractors. That phone line and email will be announced on Tuesday.
City News Service contributed to this report