REGION — A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against garbage hauler Republic Services on behalf of a Carmel Valley resident who alleges the company continued to charge customers during the month-long strike as services of trash were hanging in various parts of San Diego County.
Last week, the company and unionized sanitation workers reached an agreement to end the labor dispute and resume garbage services in various parts of San Diego and Chula Vista, where trash has accumulated for weeks.
Republic Services declined to comment on the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in San Diego, which states that plaintiff Qihai Chen was billed the regular rate during the work stoppage and was not reimbursed despite the lack of services.
Chen’s attorneys are also seeking to represent county residents billed for services when their trash has not been picked up.
According to the lawsuit, the company “intentionally billed Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ debit and credit cards for the full amount of recurring charges despite the disruption of services that occurred between December 2021 and January 2022.”
It also states, “at a minimum, the defendants could have used the funds received to hire others to remove the trash while the strike was active.”
Remediation services resumed Jan. 18, a day after unionized employees voted to accept the company’s final offer. Union leaders said the agreement included wage increases and some health insurance improvements, but fell short of what workers were seeking.
The Carlsbad City Council has approved a 10-year, $27 million contract with Republic Services for household and organic waste services beginning July 1.
“(The strike) was an anomaly,” Republic spokesman Mike Celaya told Carlsbad officials. “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.