Chula Vista has reached an agreement with its waste hauler Republic Services for costs it incurred during a month-long strike.
More than 250 sanitation workers represented by Teamsters Local 542 walked off the job Dec. 17 to protest stalled contract talks.
The work stoppage, which ended Jan. 18, affected customers in Bonita, Chula Vista, Clairemont and other parts of San Diego County. In Chula Vista, the waste hauler serves approximately 52,000 single-family households and 2,000 multi-family and commercial customers.
City manager Maria Kachadoorian announced the settlement June 14 during a city council meeting. The agreement had been signed the day before.
Chula Vista spent about $107,000 on equipment and for its own staff and third parties, such as nonprofits Alpha Project and McAlister Institute, to pick up trash due to the work stoppage, according to a bill from repayment. As part of the settlement, Republic was to pay the city $16,600 for direct third-party costs by the end of June. The waste hauler is also required to provide the city with no less than $90,000 in services, such as waste collection on various types of municipal properties, projects or events, and studies to determine how to reduce waste on the municipal properties.
Customers only receive a 46% discount, according to the agreement. This means, for example, that if a customer’s monthly bill is $30, they would have received a credit of $13.80.
The June settlement allows customers to dispute the credit they have received. Chula Vista also successfully negotiated a waiver of fees and penalties if customers “in good faith” paid their bill, minus their credit, by June 30. Based on the credit calculation, a customer with a $30 invoice, minus a $13.80 credit, would still have to pay $16.20.
After applying all credits, the company must provide the city with “documentation substantiating the cumulative amount of applied credits, including a breakdown by residential, multi-family, and commercial customer categories, by July 13, 2022,” reads -we in agreement. .
There has been a push for full customer discounts, Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said Friday.
“For (the Republic), there was a certain level of service provided. Now our residents will say… it was random. I certainly understand our community’s frustration at not getting 100% of the month that was in dispute, and that’s what we have to live with, unfortunately,” she said.
There was talk of suing Republic Services, but the wording of the contract left ‘very little wiggle room to create a lawsuit’ and would have cost ‘over half a million dollars’, council member John McCann said .
The Republic is excused from holding office due to an “uncontrollable circumstance”, which includes strikes or work stoppages. The company had notified the city that it was experiencing an uncontrollable circumstance on Dec. 17, which is required under the agreement, according to city officials.
Council member Steve Padilla said “the contract was flawed” and the council would have to renegotiate the wording when it expires in 2024. Of the June settlement, he said it was “the one who made the work and allowed us to turn the page and move on”.
However, not all residents moved out.
Russ Hall hired an attorney to send the city a letter alleging Chula Vista violated disclosure laws by not properly “reporting” the settlement between the city and Republic Departments and asking the municipality “to address and correct this violation by placing an action item on the board’s agenda to “report” the problem.
In an emailed statement, City Attorney Glen Googins said his office is still evaluating the letter.
“At this time, however, I can say that, notwithstanding the allegations contained in the letter, my office believes that the city acted in full compliance with Brown’s law in the manner in which the city ‘reported’ from the session to behind closed doors regarding the Settlement of the City with the Republic,” reads his statement.
City council in March voted 3-1 in a closed meeting where they delegated authority to Kachadoorian to reach a settlement with terms agreed to by council behind closed doors. Galvez voted “no” and Padilla was out.
Between that date and the agreement signed on June 13, negotiations focused on the final amount and form of refunds, the Republic’s obligation to allow customers to dispute credits, the value and types of services in nature that the city will receive and the conditions for exemption from penalties. Ultimately, the company agreed to the council’s terms and as soon as the two parties signed on June 13, Kachadoorian made the announcement the next day, according to city officials.
Hall said he thinks the city lacked transparency and should have held a public hearing “to allow residents a voice and I think council representatives need to be fully briefed on how this deal was reached. “.
John Moot, the attorney who filed the letter and who ran for city solicitor this year, said “the management of the garbage strike lacked transparency from day one and went wrong. has now ended in a handover shrouded in secrecy with a highly questionable timeline and no accountability to the citizens who have to foot the bill.