Update: Republic Services trash strike apparently ends before Seal Beach feels impact

OC cities deal with Republic Services labor strike

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The Republic Services trash strike is apparently over. On Thursday morning, Dec. 16, the Seal Beach Police Department Facebook page said in part: “Republic has reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters Union and as a result the strike is over. Thursday trash collection customers will have their trash picked up this Friday and Friday customers will have their trash picked up on Saturday. Your regular trash schedule is expected to resume on Monday, December 20.”

Prior to this development, city officials announced that Seal Beach would make large trash bins at the City Yard available to the public in response to the local trash strike.

A strike by Republic Services workers may adversely affect trash collection in Seal Beach as well as other Southern California cities. (For more on the labor dispute, see pages 18 and 19.)

However, at 11:59 a.m., Republic Services announced that negotiations have resumed with the union. “Republic Services is encouraged that negotiations have resumed with the union representing our Orange County employees, and we feel we are making progress toward a competitive contract that is fair for all. Republic is grateful for the support of our municipal partners,  in particular, the City of Anaheim and its leaders, who have played a key role in facilitating the restoration of collection service across the region and encouraged a resolution to the work stoppage. This collaborative approach across all of the cities we serve will be essential to resuming normal service for our customers as quickly as possible.” said the unsigned email.

It appears that Seal Beach residents might possibly feel the impact today Thursday, Dec. 16, or Friday. It is not known how long Orange County cities will have to deal with the trash strike.

“Starting Tuesday, December 14, the City will have two large roll-off trash bins available for public use at the City Yard (1776 Adolfo Lopez Drive, Seal Beach, CA 90740,” according to a Dec. 14 press release from Seal Beach.

“Please do not drop off any bulky items at this location.  Bulky items include couches, lamps, rugs, mattresses and large appliances,” according to the Dec. 14 press release.

“Republic is encouraging commercial customers to unlock gates and bins to provide access,” according to the Seal Beach statement.

On Monday, Dec. 13, Manuel “Manny” J. Gouveia, Republic Services area municipal manager for the West Area, told the council that the company is currently in contract negotiations. He said residential customers should bring their carts out to the curb on their scheduled day. He said if the carts are not picked up customers should leave their carts at the curb. He said Republic Services had delivered a 40 foot container to the Seal Beach Public Works Yard. He reported that Republic Services would deliver a second container to the city yard.

He also apologized to the city for the inconvenience.

Recently, the city of Los Alamitos changed trash collection service providers. Los Alamitos’ contract with Republic Services will expire Dec. 31. Los Alamitos is not among the cities that are known to have been included in the strike.

According to Huntington Beach’s website, that “Surf City” learned about the Republic Services work stoppage on Thursday, Dec. 9.

According to the most recent information from Seal Beach, as of Monday afternoon, Dec. 13, residents and businesses that will be affected will be those that have their trash picked up this Thursday or Friday.

Seal Beach officials initially reported the Dec. 9 trash strike in a Dec. 11 press release.

“The City of Seal Beach is not involved in talks between Republic Services and its workers, but City officials are stressing the need to see a swift resolution and contingency service,” according to the Seal Beach statement, which identifies Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos as the contact.

“The City was initially informed that the strike would not have any material impact and that trash service would resume fairly quickly, according to the Seal Beach Statement.

The Sun emailed Republic Services’s Media relations office with some questions. In addition to asking when Seal Beach residents would feel the impact, the Sun asked

“What suggestions do you have for minimizing the amount of trash residents will generate?”

“What measures is Republic Services taking to minimize the impact on its residential and business customers?”

That same day, Republic Services Media Relations office replied:

“Republic Services is working hard to resume normal service as quickly as possible, and we are making progress with many of our customers today. We remain committed to bargaining in good faith to resolve this work stoppage and reach a fair deal for all.”

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick said in a Sunday, Dec. 12 phone interview that Seal Beach residents should be prepared to get trash bags and avoid gardening.

He said he’d been told that Republic Services was flying in drivers. That, however, had not been confirmed as of Dec. 13.

According to Kalmick, Seal Beach has a contract with Republic Services and cannot simply hire another service. He also pointed out that a service with a union would be unlikely to cross a strike line.

District Two Councilman Thomas Moore sent a note updating College Park West residents on Monday to update them as Monday was trash day in College Park West. Leisure World has a different service provider and apparently won’t feel the impact of the strike.

Moore and District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt both represent Leisure World.

Massa-Lavitt was critical of Republic Services.

“Republic knew this was about to happen. They are sitting in negotiating meetings with the union and know just how far apart they are from each other. A simple warning to their customers would have been helpful. Scrambling on the day of the stoppage it not the kind of customer service they say they provide. Far from it. Republic is a huge company with a huge PR staff, they could have done better,” Massa-Lavitt wrote in a Dec. 13 email.

The Sun offered Republic Services a chance to reply to her comment. As of editorial deadline, the Sun has not received a response.

In a letter to the city manager, resident Mark Dennison had a similar criticism of the Seal Beach city government, writing that the union had authorized a strike last month. (See Letters to the Editor page 6.) The Daily Pilot reported on Nov. 30 of this year that Teamsters Local 396 had voted to authorize a strike on Nov. 23 2021. (Dennis provided the Sun with link confirming his information.) Huntington Beach city officials were also critical of Republic Services in a statement dated Dec. 10. “We were initially told that the strike should have no material impact on services and that the dispute should be resolved fairly quickly,” according to an unsigned Huntington Beach “City response” at surfcitybreak.com.

“However, as the day unfolded, and after numerous attempts to gather additional details as to what was happening, it became clear that the City was not being provided with timely information, and the details that we were provided were, at best, inaccurate,” according to surfcitybreak.com.

A Dec. 13 statement from  Huntington Beach announced that the Huntington Beach City Council would hold a special council meeting to declare a local emergency.

Update: Republic Services trash strike apparently ends before Seal Beach feels impact