On the Picket Line

San Diego sanitation workers win wage increase, end strike

By Vivian Sahner
January 31, 2022

Striking sanitation workers, members of Teamsters Local 542, voted 137-70 to accept an improved contract offer by Republic Services bosses, ending their four-week strike.

The strikers held firm, winning growing support from area workers and some in the city government, as stinking garbage piled up. They refused to accept the bosses’ contemptuous wage offer, significantly less than what sanitation workers had won from the same company in Orange County. Picket lines didn’t buckle when the company brought in a special group of strikebreakers the company calls the “Blue Crew.”

Union workers told the media that the five-year contract includes a $1.90 an hour wage increase the first year, better than the company’s original offer of $1, along with $.50 for the next three years and a $1.50 raise the final year. They also won some improvements to their health care and a $1,000 signing bonus.

“This contract isn’t everything we believe we deserve,” said union member Rafael Mejia, “but it’s enough to go back to work and go back to taking care of our communities.”