14 June 2021
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104
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IT UP, RTC!
to business >
Union Council Passes Strike Sanction
Bus contractor sued for unpaid health insurance premiums
The Northern Nevada Central Labor Council has unanimously passed a strike
sanction resolution against the for-profit operator of the Washoe County
mass transit system.
Teamsters Union Local
as long as we could to take this action but local elected officials
have left us no choice," stated Teamsters Local 533 President
"We must protect our workers and the public they serve," he
"The five elected Regional Transportation Commission officials
are acting in concert with foreign-owned Keolis Transit to endanger
the public and break the employees' union," Watson said.
Central Labor Council President Mike Pilcher said that Keolis
Transit's current contract proposal "includes dissolving the
workers' health care trust fund and reducing their pay and benefits.
The bus operators have given their all for the community and the contractor
throughout the pandemic," Pilcher said.
"If this is how Keolis intends to thank them, we can do better,"
the retired firefighter added.
the France-based company of not bargaining in good faith with the union.
proposals intend to diminish federally protected rights and almost
40 years of bargaining history all because they want to further profit
at the expense of Washoe County taxpayers, Watson said.
The union's current contract expires on June 30. The
only previous walkout happened in 2002.
Nevada Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO is comprised of 34 unions
in building trades, services and government, including first responders. Council
delegates voted the strike sanction on June 9.
"Our resolution empowers all our member unions to support the transit
system workers in any and every way possible," Pilcher said.
"We further encourage union retirees, families, friends, suppliers,
signatory companies and our constituency groups to do the same,"
Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus and former Sparks City
Councilmember John Mayer have advocated eliminating the middleman
by ending four decades of hiring for-profit contractors and instead
making transit system workers RTC employees.
"The current system is demonstrably wasteful and unaccountable,"
THE SCREWS A HISTORY OF FRICTION AND DERELICTION
 France-based Keolis Transit has failed to pay more than $50,000
in 2019 worker health insurance premiums. The Northern California
General Teamsters Security Fund filed action in federal court
earlier this month to force payment. Keolis also remains in arrears
for premiums due as recently as May, 2021.
 Keolis received permission
from RTC on May 21 to pay strikebreakers, something a long list
of for-profit contractors have not had power to do. (See the 1999
archive at NevadaLabor.com/ )
 Keolis has consistently refused to implement local, state and federal
mask and social distancing requirements and ordered drivers not to
enforce under threat of firing. (Written proof at
 In contravention of the union contract, Keolis has refused to give
the union information on the dozens of drivers and support staff who
have been infected with COVID-19. At least two were admitted to intensive
 The union has filed 37 National Labor Relations Board charges of
illegal and unfair labor practices and has 38 binding arbitrations
pending, some over a year old. Keolis has not only delayed but has
personally threatened federal arbitrators after they have been selected.
Local 533 also has two additional legal filings pending in federal
 Among the union's legal actions is the case of Athena
Duffy, a Latinx young mother who was illegally denied mandatory
lactation breaks and access to sanitary facilities mandated by the
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised
of Sparks Mayor Ed
Lawson, Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn
Hartung  and Bob
Lucey; Reno City Councilmembers Oscar
Delgado and Neoma Jardon,
board chair. Mr. Delgado and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19
in December. He is currently CEO of the Community
Health Alliance of Washoe County. RTC board e-mail <email@example.com>
See NevadaLabor.com for links, references, photos and complete background
on these issues and Teamsters/RTC history including the 2002
Hot August Strike.
1934, Teamsters Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various
trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California.
there something we can do for the bus operators?" RTC
Commissioner Vaughn Hartung, 5-21-2021, in the same meeting where
he voted to sanction hiring of strikebreakers.
* takes legal requirements out of the union contract
* is silent on economic issues
* does not explain their rationale for cutbacks
* removes existing language on uniforms, appearance guidelines and drug
& alcohol insurance coverage
* would exclude temps from a new collective bargaining agreement, making
an unlimited number of new-hires not subject to the union contract.
(They have made a habit of hiriing "permanent temps," a practice
begun under a front company owned by the wife of their former Reno general
manager, Abul Hassan.)
* rewrites all discipline provisions making any union contract worthless
as it would make all workers "fire-at-will" employees who
may be terminated at any time for any reason or no reason, like most
other Nevada workers. Keolis is still hiring "permanent temps"
with no benefits even though the current contract calls for formal hiring
after 90 days.
* eliminates the shuttle from the Villanova/US 395 center to downtown
Reno, forcing drivers to take their own cars and look for and pay for
parking downtown. (This creates more air pollution, cars on the road
and expense for the drivers.)
* gets rid of workers comp language and eliminates temporary alternative
work provisions (e.g., if an injured driver gets temp work making phone
calls while recovering). Keolis would instead follow Nevada law which
is much weaker.
* gets rid of Teamsters health insurance (which they have not been paying)
and goes to the deficient company plan.
latest addition to Teamsters Local 533's Road Show
(needs a little paint)
it for yourself
Here's a verbatim
order from Keolis Operations Manager Taquan Jackson: "Effective
12:00AM (midnight), February 2, 2021 there will be a federal mandate
for masks to be worn on public transportation. This is a requirement
the local team and RTC have been encouraging and adhering to for some
time now. Although the mandate was (sic) been escalated our operators
are not to enforce this policy whatsoever."
expects his employees to be acrobats, adhering while ignoring.
This is nothing new. Mr. Hassan ordered this on June 26, 2020: "We
are not to deny ridership for not having a mask, do not refuse riders."
A driver can refuse to board a pantsless passenger but not a maskless
one. (That sitcom scenario actually happened last year.)
system's bedrock customers are the least among us: The elderly, the
very young, minorities, the disabled, homeless and those of low income
who cannot afford autos or don't drive.
are allowed to work sick. Health, safety and COVID-19 test results have
been withheld in violation of the union contract. Why won't RTC let
the union know how many safety complaints come in from passengers?
Last year, RTC received $26.2 million in federal relief funds.
RTC Washoe provided billing from Keolis which showed they spent only
$338,000 on COVID-19 safety.
RTC further informed the union that Keolis swept much of the rest directly
to corporate profit.
On August 17, 2021, a National Labor Relations Board judge will review
why Keolis refuses to disclose how many union members contracted COVID-19,
among other union-busting charges.
Please contact your five commissioners and advocate for endangered passengers
"We are world-class virus smiters" Teamsters: "And world-renowned liars"
Kristen Hackbarth / This Is Reno 2-3-2021
RTC Transit Strike Archive