Union offered no-strike/no-lockout agreement during negotiations

RENO, Nev. (Tuesday, Aug. 13) -- Teamsters Local 533 CEO Lou Martino on Monday chastised transit manager Mike Steele for misrepresenting facts to the public and the press. Steele, an employee of British-owned* Transit Management of Washoe, Inc. (TMW), manages the Citifare bus system for the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County.

"I am now being informed you are disseminating misinformation concerning the union's August 9, 2002, unconditional offer to return to work," Martino stated in a letter to Steele. Mr. Steele's excuse for locking out his drivers and dispatchers is his feeling they could strike "at whim" if he allowed them back to work. The bus system, upon which many area workers depend, remains crippled despite Steele's hiring expensive replacement drivers from out-of-state.

On its 6:30 p.m. newscast on Monday, August 12, KTVN TV-2 correspondent Brian Hickey reported "TMW chose not to to put the drivers back in the buses fearing they would just go back on strike again, but the Teamsters said they are willing to drive under an extension of their old contract which includes a no-strike clause. RTC says they've seen no such proposal."

Martino takes strong exception to that assertion. His letter to Steele continues "I wish to remind you what transpired and, for the record, restate and clarify what our offer truly was. The company representative was informed on August 9, 2002, at approximately 1:00 p.m., that the union offer included the following:

"1. Unconditional offer to immediately return to work.
"2. To sign a letter of understanding extending the expired agreement and continue working
      under its terms and conditions, including the No Strike/No Lockout Article, while continuing
      our negotiation sessions.
"3. Maintaining the status quo while negotiations continued.

STRIKE AVOIDED (6-20-99) - Teamsters Local 533 CEO Lou Martino, on a live KOLO TV-8 newscast, announces that there will be no Sparks-Reno RTC/Citifare bus strike. Reporter Beryl Chong interviewed Martino immediately after the vote at the union offices on Vassar Street in Reno. A Teamsters Citifare driver, on his normal route, just happened to pass by during the live telecast. He honked.

"The first response the union representative received from the company representative was simply stated as 'interesting' and something to the effect that he'd call back. The company representative then engaged in a teleconference with you and other parties unknown to the union to determine what would be done," Martino continued.

"The union representative did not receive any response from the company representative until 5:00 p.m., August 9. As you know, I personally took the initiative and faxed you our unconditional offer to return to work while awaiting a response from the company on the remaining two issues. I also had (Teamsters Business Representative) Mark Tracy hand-deliver the same offer to your office. You received both copies. The union immediately ended the strike. We kept our word. We maintained our credibility. We displayed good faith and our concern and respect for the community we serve," the former Citifare driver stated.

"After you concluded your teleconference at approximately 5:30 p.m. on the evening of August 9, the company representative contacted the union representative and stated 'we're going to do what we have to do.' You decided to lock out the employees. This was further supported by your letter faxed and hand-delivered to the local union at approximately 6:00 p.m. the same evening. As you are already aware, this was after we ended the strike. I had already asked you to assist us in notifying the employees to return to work immediately. Normal service would have been established by midnight and we both would have executed the formal documents today. What you gave me instead of your agreement was your notice locking out the employees," Martino continued.

"So there is no further credibility issue remaining. The union offer was then, and remains today, as stated in numbers 1, 2 and 3, above. If you have changed your mind and now wish to accept the union's complete offer, do it. Please notify me of your decision," Martino concluded.

As a Citifare bus operator, Martino led the workers during the union's successful 1987 election campaign to represent Citifare employees.


Ryder/ATE, Inc., contracted to run the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County bus system in 1998. The following year, the company was sold to FirstGroup PLC, a UK-based corporation. Go to the Citifare Archive for details of the acquisition.

Transit Management of Washoe, Inc., is a corporate subsidiary of FirstGroup PLC.

Now, please follow the bouncing ball:

First Transit of Cincinnati, OH, publishes a client list.

It includes this link for "Reno Regional Transportation Commission." (sic)

First Transit is a subsidiary of FirstGroupAmerica. You will find a link to First Transit's home page at the FirstGroupAmerica site.

The FirstGroupAmerica home page states "FirstGroup is a UK based leading international passenger transport group with bus and rail operations spanning two continents. Through global investment and innovation our international presence is stronger than ever. As is our commitment to providing high quality transport services to our customers." To complete the circle, see the UK parent's home page at

At, FirstTransit lists itself as located at

One Centennial Plaza
705 Central Avenue Suite 300
Cincinnati, OH 45202-5755
Tel. 513.241.2200
Fax 513.381.0149

The Nevada Secretary of State lists the following address for Transit Management of Washoe, Inc.:

705 Central Ave Ste 500
One Centennial Plaza
Cincinnati OH 45202

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