CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Waste management company Republic Services has agreed to provide universal credit to single-family households affected by the fallout from a recent sanitation worker strike, Chula Vista council member said Thursday. John McCann.
“We’re still negotiating with them on the actual amount, but I think it’s a big step in the right direction,” McCann said.
In Chula Vista, the result of the strike, which began in December, affected more than 50,000 customers who were billed by Republic while garbage was not picked up. Workers represented by Teamsters Local 542 voted to approve a new five-year deal in mid-January, giving workers a $1.90 hourly raise in the first year as well as a $1,000 bonus at come this year.
The deal gives them 50-cent raises in each of the next three years and a $1.50 raise in the final year of the cycle, according to the union.
Cleanup efforts began within days of the strike ending, and Republic has pledged to handle customer refund requests on a case-by-case basis. But some were unhappy with the arrangement, and the city was in talks with the company to chart a way forward.
City leaders had said legal action against Republic was an option to get refunds for residents. McCann said he believes litigation against Republic can and will be avoided.
“We hope we can resolve this issue soon,” he said.
At a news conference Thursday, former Chula Vista council member Rudy Ramirez criticized city leaders for their handling of the strike.
Ramirez, who served on the council from 2006 to 2015, is running as the city’s next mayor.
“I wish the city had been better prepared with other carriers making arrangements to pick up the slack so our citizens weren’t as impacted during this month,” he said. “The city was a month late before it woke up and said ‘we have a crisis here – we have to fix this.'”
Ramirez warns that any litigation would not only cost the city a lot of money, but could also create a toxic relationship with the Republic with two years left in the services contract.
“Let’s give credit back to all those residents who didn’t get service,” he said. “If we can avoid litigation in the process, then I think we should be looking for that.”
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