Dozens of Republic Services trucks roared through Chula Vista neighborhoods Monday and picked up every black, blue and green bin for the first time in three weeks. However, the pickup did not signal an end to the sanitation strike as it entered a fourth week.
“Republic Services is picking up residential trash, recycling and green waste carts this week in Chula Vista and in unincorporated San Diego County with the help of our Blue Crew relief employees,” read a statement from the sanitation company. “Due to potential contamination by weather and/or other trash, all three types of waste are being disposed of as trash this week. We are bringing in additional relief crews to help us reach even more customers. We continue to coordinate with our municipal partners as we work toward a long-term solution, and we thank customers for their understanding.”
At the same time Monday, shop stewards from the Teamsters Local 542 picketed outside the Otay Landfill and temporarily stopped trucks long enough to hand the drivers a flyer about their protest.
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“We’re holding strong,” said union driver Dohney Castillo. “There’s a lot of people out there that really don’t know what’s going on.”
Castillo said they are seeking better pay, better equipment, and better working conditions that worsened during the pandemic.
“We’re out here because we’re fighting for something that’s just, something that we believe we deserve,” said Castillo. “It’s nothing out of this world. We’re not going to become millionaires the day that we go back to work.”
Monday’s pickup comes after blue recycling bins sat on curbsides since before Christmas. 17-year-old twins Jonathan and Jeremy Taylor noticed the trash piling up in their neighborhood and turned it into a small business venture. The two charged homeowners $10 each to take their garbage and recyclables to the Otay Landfill.
“I was expecting maybe just our street,” smiled Jeremy.
The duo ended up collecting trash from roughly 80 homes last week.
“A lot of people got us water and Gatorade, which was really nice,” said Jonathan. “And we got gift cards.”
The two had mixed feelings about seeing the Republic Services trucks roll through their neighborhood Monday.
“I was kind of happy to see them getting back to normal,” said Jonathan.
“But it was a nice little thing in the meantime over break to have and do to help people out,” added Jeremy.
Back at the landfill, Castillo didn’t fault the teenagers for their efforts. He did take exception with professional trash haulers who he said are taking advantage of the sanitation strike.
“And to them, ‘Hey, shame on you,’” said Castillo.
The sanitation strike will be a topic of discussion at Tuesday evening’s Chula Vista City Council Meeting. Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said in a message to the community the city will discuss everything from taking over trash collection services to finding a new sanitation partner.
Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann said he will ask Republic Services for a credit on behalf of customers. He said in an email to constituents, “If someone does not provide a service, then our citizens of Chula Vista should [be refunded] for the money they spent.”