Garbage pickups came to a virtual halt in four Orange County cities and parts of five others Thursday as 220 workers from two Anaheim-based disposal companies quit work in what officials called a wildcat strike.
The cause of the walkout was not clear, nor was its duration. The affected areas include Anaheim, Garden Grove, Brea and Placentia, some unincorporated areas and parts of Costa Mesa, Westminster, Stanton, Santa Ana and Orange.
Supervisors and other company employees at Jaycox Disposal Co. filled in for its 160 employees. Members of management took over at the Anaheim Disposal Co., where about 60 workers have not reported for work since Wednesday.
Jaycox President Bob Kuznik said he expected that many workers will return today. Jaycox Disposal, at 1016 E. Katella Ave., provides residential service in Anaheim and Garden Grove, parts of Costa Mesa and unincorporated areas. It also serves businesses in Brea and Placentia, Kuznik said.
Workers at Anaheim Disposal, at 2761 E. White Star Avenue, may not be back to work until after the Memorial Day weekend, said John Roche, Anaheim maintenance services director. Anaheim Disposal provides trash service to the city's hotels and other businesses. Company spokesmen refused to comment Thursday afternoon.
Jaycox Disposal received at least 500 calls during the day from residents wondering why their garbage was not picked up, dispatcher Richard Barragan said.
Both companies used skeleton crews to pick up garbage at hospitals, restaurants and some hotels, Kuznik and Roche said.
If the workers return today, the firms should catch up with their work by the end of the weekend, city and company officials said.
Should the strike continue, several cities have backup plans.
In Brea, city officials have mapped out seven locations for large containers into which residents can drop refuse, said Patrick McCarron, Brea maintenance services director.
"Hopefully, they will get the trucks out tomorrow and this will all be a bad memory," McCarron said.
Kuznik said the strike followed an agreement on a new three-year contract reached Tuesday night between Teamsters Union Local 396 and seven companies: Great Western in Santa Ana, MG Disposal in Fullerton, Park Disposal in Buena Park, Orange Disposal in Orange, Rainbow Disposal in Huntington Beach, Jaycox Disposal and Anaheim Disposal.
While most workers agreed to the 25-cents-per-hour raise in the new contract, workers at the two Anaheim companies were not satisfied, Roche said. The salary for a driver rose from $9.05 to $9.30 per hour when the new contract went into effect Tuesday at midnight, Kuznik said. In Los Angeles, the same job nets an employee $7.70 an hour, Kuznik said.
Kuznik said he wasn't sure whether wages were at the heart of the dispute. "There's confusion as to what they're upset about. In our case, it's not clear-cut," he said. Kuznik and Roche said the workers' actions constituted a wildcat strike because it was not authorized by the union.
Union officials could not be reached for comment.
In Anaheim, Roche said he expects Anaheim Disposal's first priority will be to service large commercial customers until workers return to their jobs. "If it (the walkout) doesn't end, then we'll have to take it day by day," he said.