Carlsbad residents question Republic Services waste management contract

CARLSBAD – After more than 250 unionized sanitation drivers reached an agreement last week with Republic Services following a month-long strike in San Diego, Carlsbad residents continue to raise concerns about the contract of the city with the struggling waste disposal company.

Carlsbad City Council heard an update from Republic during its January 25 meeting where residents brought their feelings of dismay to the fore, including questions about the city’s impending transition to the new garbage haul service and the Republic’s handling of a public labor dispute that left trash piling up in homes and businesses in the city of Chula Vista and San Diego neighborhoods for weeks.

In April 2021, the board approved a 10-year, $27 million contract with Republic for household garbage and organic waste services beginning July 1, replacing Waste Management after the nation’s largest waste hauler has not submitted a bid (Republic is the second – largest waste removal company in the United States)

Regardless, the majority of the council at the time, behind former councilor Cori Schumacher, councilor Priya Bhat-Patel and councilor Teresa Acosta, backed Republic’s bid because of ties to the company with the Teamsters, promises of no work stoppages, competitive wages and other environmental measures. Components.

“Those are two great proposals,” Acosta said at the April meeting. “It’s about choosing the one that best matches our values. It’s a family business (EDCO) and that worries me. I like the fact that we have a public company that cares about its employees.

And while the ink on the city’s deal with Republic has already dried, residents have continued to pressure the council to terminate its contract with Republic and sign a deal with EDCO or Waste Management.

As part of the deal, Republic announced plans to hire approximately 40 drivers, along with 10 other employees to serve the city of Carlsbad. The union contract between Republic and the Teamsters (a different union in Chula Vista and San Diego) for garbage removal services in Carlsbad expires in 2023.

Additionally, the company is rolling out its public awareness campaign to help customers switch to Republic’s waste hauling services. The company will also provide free mulch to residents as part of the contract with the city.

Mike Celaya, a Republic spokesman, told the board that the strike and subsequent work stoppage in San Diego was the result of a number of mitigating factors.

“(The strike) was an anomaly,” Celaya said. “We had the perfect storm with COVID and are looking for drivers to help us. This is a small business unit here in Carlsbad. We definitely have this work team in place and ready…should anything happen.

But some residents were unconvinced, continuing to express their displeasure with the city’s decision through emails, phone calls and social media. Some have blamed Schumacher, Acosta and Bhat-Patel for “misleading” the public and making “selfish” decisions in approving a contract with Republic.

A resident, who did not identify herself on the phone, called for an investigation into serving and former council members for possible improprieties or private discussions with the Teamsters or the Republic over a prior contract. council’s vote last spring.

Others noted that EDCO seemed to offer better services at a lower rate for residents. For example, EDCO submitted a $200,000 lower bid to Republic, demonstrated greater emissions reductions, and did not require the city to buy back the organic waste. EDCO’s anaerobic digestion facility in Escondido converts organic waste into natural gas to power its fleet.

Another resident, Kris Wright, said the city should review its “exit” clause and reopen the offer. However, due to the limited time the city has to initiate a state-mandated organic waste program under Senate Bill 1383 and no ongoing breach of contract by the Republic, the City will not terminate the Agreement.

City Attorney Celia Brewer said the city’s contract with Republic had much more nuanced language than the company’s agreements with Chula Vista and San Diego, placing a burden on Republic to continue serving regardless of anything. contract dispute with the Teamsters.

“The contract is complex and specific to what we can and cannot do,” Brewer said. “There are timing issues and organic issues. And there are several other considerations. We can terminate for lack of service, but they have the ability to “heal”.