(NewsNation Now) — The situation in Chula Vista, California, has been getting trashier by the day for nearly a month.
While union sanitation workers remain on strike, the declaration of a local emergency aims to clean up the garbage and the labor mess.
All over Chula Vista, trash is piling up and spilling over.
In the month since union sanitation workers at Republic Services went on strike, rats have been working overtime.
“I would say they’re at least eight inches long, plus the tail,” one resident said. “So these rats have not missed a meal if you know what I’m saying.”
While negotiations drag on between the company and its workers, the city of Chula Vista may move on without both of them.
“The obligations under the contract are not being fulfilled,” Chula Vista Council member Stephen Padilla said.
With Republic Services not in service right now, the Chula Vista City Council is expected to approve the city manager’s declaration of a public health emergency next Tuesday. That will allow the city to potentially tap another vendor to pick up the trash.
Union workers are demanding higher wages, better benefits and safer conditions. The company has argued to the city that they already provide that to their workers.
“They fall squarely within and in some cases above their essential worker colleagues and that’s on their current contract,” Richard Coupland, VP of Municipal Sales at Republic Services told the city council.
“Never in my working life has a company made me feel so disrespected, humiliated and dehumanized like Republic Services has,” striking sanitation worker Donny Castillo said.
As the standoff goes on, hundreds of garbage piles are growing, along with the population of fat rats.
“My stomach was turning,” a resident said. “I want to throw up, it’s like a total nightmare.”
Just last month, the city of Huntington Beach declared a local emergency in response to a strike by sanitation workers also employed by Republic Services. A labor agreement was reached two days later.