10-23-2021 GMT

The shape of things to come?
STORMY MONDAY, 10-11-2021 — On a lonely day out on the picket line in bitter cold, these two images converged on Channel 2's website. Coincidence? I don't think so. We played. We competed. We won. The adventure abides. Solidarity forever!

 

STRIKEtober WEEK 4

The bus strike's most important supporter
THE LEAST AMONG US SUPPORTING THE OPPRESSED — "Her name is Jo. She lives at the women's shelter and takes the bus to Record Street to eat. She has a heart condition that makes her legs swell so it is hard for her to walk. She is articulate and easy to talk to. She told me she takes the bus to go to her doctor. With the buses not running, she didn't know how she would get there." (Photo and caption by Teamsters Local 533 bus operator Mike Humes)
      Note of Concern: The Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce implores both sides of the transit strike to come together and engage in good-faith bargaining for the sake of our members and their employees, many of whom rely on public transportation to maintain their jobs and sustain their lives.
Ann Silver, Executive Director, Chamber Briefing 10/5/2021

Bus riders face disruptive schedule in strike's 2nd week
Negotiations scheduled to resume October 7
By Kristin Oh / 10-5-2021 rgj.com / Reno Gazette-Journal front page lead item above the fold 10-6-2021

 

 

BREAKING NEWS AND THEN SOME—>

BREAKING NEWS

RTC bus strike ends, negotiations to continue
By Jason Hidalgo / rgj.com 10-21-2021 / Reno Gazette-Journal front page lead story 10-22-2021

STATEMENT TO RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
10-20-2021

(RENO, Nev.) — Teamsters Local 533 has reached a tentative agreement with Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County mass transit contractor Keolis Transit on scheduling, time off and a number of other issues. Union members begin returning to work tomorrow after striking for the second time in three months. Negotiations on remaining contract articles will resume on October 28 as they work towards finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement which must be ratified by majority vote.
     "We have reached a tentative agreement on the bidding procedures which were the issue in the recent strike," stated Local 533 President Gary Watson.
    "A compensated shop steward will now oversee all scheduling bids and the bidding process," he added.
    "We also settled 18 other items. Next week, we begin bargaining over wages and pension provisions and grievance procedures," Watson stated.
    "We still have economic and non-economic issues to resolve, For instance, we tentatively agreed on paid lactation breaks for nursing mothers, reasonable intervals not to exceed 20 minutes in a clean and locked room designated for lactation.
    "Victims of domestic violence will receive three days of paid leave where state law only allows for 20 unpaid days. Keolis will now have less time to discipline employees. Members in maintenance will receive $150 more per year in boot allowance and $400 more in tool allowance per year. Many other items were either maintained or improved. 
    "Reno City Councilmember and RTC Chair Neoma Jardon observed the last two days of negotiations and will be involved when we meet to bargain the rest starting October 28. We hope to complete negotiations with the company on compensation, disciplinary rules and other issues within the next two to three weeks. Then, the members can vote.
    "Between both of the strikes our members stood strong on the line for 35 days and they are ready to pound the pavement again if provoked. They educated the passengers and the public, they marched to city hall and delivered passionate statements at RTC board meetings.
    "Most importantly they took care of each other when a sister or brother was down and out," Watson said.
    “Working class people need to know it’s time for us to unite,” said Local 533 Driver and Shop Steward Michael Lansborough who serves on the negotiating committee.
    “Taxpayers need to unite not only individually by forming unions, but also unite as a whole to beat down this corrosive corporate attitude that companies can just walk all over anyone and everyone,” Lansborough added.
    Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

Tue, 19 Oct 2021 18:13:43 (PDT) / 01:13:43 GMT 10-20-2021 —
From: Gary Watson <gary@teamsters533.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2021 18:13:38 -0700
Subject: Tentative Agreement on Bidding - Strike is Over
To: gary@teamsters533.org, Debbie Calkins <debbie@teamsters533.org>,
Chris Fuqua <chris@teamsters533.org>, Ross Kinson <ross@teamsters533.org>
Bcc: barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us

Brothers and Sisters:

We have reached a tentative agreement on the bidding procedures (Document Attached). The 20% on the extra board will now have a home with a weekly block bid. The 80% will continue to bid cafeteria style. We have also reached tentative agreements on roughly 18 other articles. We still have open items such as Management Rights, Grievance Procedure, Holidays, Pension, Wages and Drug and Alcohol. We will be meeting with the company on October 28, 2021 to continue the bargaining process.

The strike has officially ended as of this tentative agreement on bidding. Members can go back to work tomorrow, (Wednesday) but on Wednesday you will be subject to drive what the company has available. On Thursday at 12:01am you will return to full service and your normal bid.

On behalf of the 533 Leadership and the Bargaining Committee, we are all proud of each and every one of you that showed heart and dedication on the Picket Line. You stood strong, so we could continue to fight on!

In Solidarity,

Debbie Calkins, Gary Watson, Chris Fuqua, Ross Kinson, Michael Guerra, Pepp Monteleon, Eric Martelle, Michael Lansborough, Carl Kincaid,  Amanda Nelson & Jennifer Fenton

Update 5:44 p.m. PDT 10-19 / 00:44 GMT 10-20-2021 — KOLO TV-8 is reporting that Regional Transportation of Washoe County Chair Neoma Jardon has tweeted that the Teamsters transit strike is over after 23 days and that service will resume on Thursday. All three RTC services will provide free rides for the next month.

Teamsters 533 President Gary Watson told KTVN TV-2 News that 80 percent of issues had been agreed upon but that does not mean another strike cannot happen. Additional talks are scheduled. As always, union members must vote to ratify a new contract. Stay tuned.

Tue, 19 Oct 2021 15:09:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gary Watson <gary@teamsters533.org>
Subject: Important Announcement

Brothers and Sisters:

I have a very important announcement to make, all members should be on the Picket Line at 4pm at 4SS (4TH STREET STATION IN DOWNTOWN RENO).

Very Important!

In Solidarity,

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104
<gary@teamsters533.org>

SUPERSPREADER UPDATES


STRIKEtober WEEK 4

CHICKEN SPIN: Regional Transportation Commission and Keolis-19 shovel their barnyard

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2021 17:41:48 -0700
To: news@nevadalabor.com
From: Andrew Barbano <barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us>
Subject: RTC reneges on Uber/Lyft vouchers
Cc: Gary Watson <gary@teamsters533.org> , bthomas@rtcwashoe.com, neomajardon@yahoo.com, Neoma Jardon <jardonn@reno.gov>, mmaloney@rtcwashoe.com, mmoreno@rtcwashoe.com, Denise Thompson <dthompson@rtcwashoe.com>, Lauren Ball <LBall@rtcwashoe.com>,

TO: News Media
From: Andrew Barbano

This just came in from a striking Teamsters driver: "Passengers trying to get vouchers at (downtown Reno's) 4th Street Station are being denied (Uber/Lyft vouchers) if they are running a bus on that route regardless of frequency."

You may find a story therein. I will send a copy of this item to RTC but as you will note hereinbelow, my e-mails have not been surviving their moat monsters.

You may contact Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson for comment.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew


March in Solidarity with Riders & Workers

Saturday, October 16
12noon: Meet at the (200 East) 4th Street RTC Bus Station / March to Reno City Hall BELIEVE Plaza (N. Virginia at E. 1st)
12:30-2p.m.: Rally at BELIEVE Plaza featuring Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus

FIRE THE FOREIGN PROFITEERS! STRIKETOBER SUPPORTERS RALLY TO RENO CITY HALL
Downtown Reno march in support of striking transit workers
Featuring afflicted passengers, Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus,
Northern Nevada Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO President Mike Pilcher, Teamsters 533 Business Agent Ross Kinson
ThisIsReno.com YouTube Video / 10-16-2021

Sign the "Fire Keolis" Petition

JOIN THE PICKET LINES
4th Street Station (downtown) at 200 E. 4th Street, 8:00am to 8:00pm Daily
RTC Villanova facility by Wooster High School at 2050 Villanova Drive
8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday

BEWARE THE IDES OF OCTOBER
Join us for the RTC Board Meeting: Friday, Oct. 15 at 9:00a.m. PDT
Washoe County Commission Chambers, 1001 E. 9th St. just east of Wells Ave. (Building A)
MASKS REQUIRED

BREAKING NEWS 10:54 a.m. PDT 10-14-2021 (RTC Washoe @RTCWashoe) — "We have decided to pull the public hearing regarding reduction of transit service from Friday's board meeting agenda. We are sensitive to how these changes affect our riders and RTC is not moving forward with the proposal to reduce RIDE, ACCESS or FlexRIDE service at this time." [EDITOR'S NOTE: GEE, you'd never know there's a strike on with almost zero RTCRide bus service and the specialty systems for seniors and disabled stunted after they were shunted to cover fragments of RIDE routes, as they were in the Hot August Strike.]

BACK TO BUREAUCRATIC PROPAGANDA: "The RTC is anticipating potential transit service changes beginning in January due to unprecedented staffing shortages of drivers regionally and nationwide, a consequence of the pandemic."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: ...AND a consequence of the system being run by a morally obtuse for-profit foreign contractor which has refused to enforce COVID-19 safety mandates, infecting and hospitalizing drivers and support staff — and threatening them with firing if they try to make moonhowlers mask up. Oh, yeah, and trying to bust the workers' union.]

Other than that, have a nice day.

VIDEO: Regional Transportation Commission hearing
Union members, passengers, business owners and community leaders speak in support of transit workers
YouTube Video / 10-15-2021


Why can Keolis-19 post propaganda on RTC property but workers cannot?
Because Bill Thomas, Neoma Jardon, Oscar Delgado and the rest of the RTC mis-managers say they can. Chair Jardon even shamelessly defends Keolis conduct as impeccable.

Keolis-19's warm & fuzzy is actually a moldy oldie

MAKING THEIR CASE (9-17-2021) — RTC RIDE trade unionists Amanda Nelson, left, and Chastity Lockridge greet the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County before their monthly meeting. Does misogyny mean never having to say you're sorry? Apparently. Instances in point:

FAMILY UNFRIENDLY: CELL-BLOCK SCHEDULING FROM TEXAS

LACTATING MOTHERS NEED NOT APPLY

UNO MAS
MILKING PROFITS: Teamsters protest Washoe RTC bus contractor

By Bob Conrad / ThisIsReno.com + Video 5-21-2021
 


Now, to business —>

Barbwire Banned by Busted Bus System
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 10-13-2021

Busted bus system: High-paid pimps & thieves
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 10-6-2021

Striking blows for justice
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 9-29-2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

See NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including Hot August Strike 1.0 (2002) and 2.0 (Aug. 3 thru 12, 2021)

BREAKING NEWS —> STRIKE 2!

TEAMSTERS STRIKE BUS SYSTEM TODAY
Second work stoppage in two months
Federal charges of illegal unfair labor practices filed
Mask mandate compliance still ignored

RENO, Nev, (9-27-2021) — At 12 noon PDT today, Teamsters union transit workers employed by foreign-owned contractor Keolis Transit walked off the job. The strike follows the 10-day walkout in early August and is only the third strike in the four-decade history of the RTCRide system.

“Keolis’ latest deal-breaking proposal makes it impossible for working families to properly take care of obligations such as child care, elder care, health care, school activities and much more, all of which have been made easier under the now-expired Teamsters contract," stated Local 533 President Gary Watson.

"The union countered Keolis’ Texas-controlled work-schedule bidding proposal with a plan that would have moved toward the company's objective regarding employees with less seniority. Keolis childishly countered by slicing back their original offer. Schedule bidding imposes no costs to Keolis, so the issue is transparently one of absolute control and power. Keolis answers to no one and faces no penalties for lack of service or employee abuse thanks to a waiver of all contractual money damages starting in March 2020. RTC Washoe and its elected officials should be ashamed of themselves for what they have created for our public transit community," Watson said.

New mom/driver Athena Duffy with Teamsters Local 533 Business Agent Ross Kinson at the 5-21-21 RTC meeting

The company and local officials had been warned several times that another strike loomed. The union has raised a high profile for womens' issues for the past year. Earlier this year, a nursing mother was locked out of sanitary lactation facilities.

"Operators are leaving because of chronic unsafe COVID-19 conditions and lack of enforcement, withholding of scheduled raises, and proposed elimination of a scheduling system that helps women with families. All this came after a strike became necessary to defeat the company's attempt to eliminate the advantageous Teamsters health plan," Watson said on Sept. 17.

"Keolis gets paid roughly 23 to 24 million taxpayer dollars a year. The French for-profit corporation is supposed to operate with 176 drivers but currently employs only 115 to 120," Watson added.

"They have perpetrated multiple breaches of their cushy contract, the longest in RTC history. They should be terminated," Watson charged and so informed RTC elected officials and managers at their monthly meeting.

"Operating with a blank check and zero accountability to the Regional Transportation Commission, the fewer employed by the company, the more profit Keolis makes," Watson stated.

Last week, the union filed charges of illegal unfair labor practices with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The charges state

"Within the past six months, Keolis refused to bargain in good faith by proposing to eliminate the bid procedure that has worked well for the past 40 years and replace it with a system calculated to give management absolute control over shifts. Keolis knew the absolute control over shifts proposal would be unacceptable before making the proposal.
"The union countered by agreeing to apply Keolis' proposal to the bottom third of the seniority list. The parties agreed that Keolis needs more staff and low seniority new drivers have high turnover. The union provided substantial information during bargaining that the proposal was devastating to workers with family care responsibilities, particularly women, and warned Keolis that such proposals are unacceptable. Keolis responded with an even worse schedule proposal.
"The new proposal disregarded the union's proposal to compromise and came from a Teamster contract that does not cover a fixed service bus system. The only reasons Keolis gave for these demands was that similar systems work at non-fixed route locations, they wanted to take care of the low seniority workers and management should control. Keolis admitted the last bid three weeks ago went smoothly, admitted that the union had counter-proposed with Keolis' own proposal and refused to discuss that RTC's failure to asses liquidated [CASH] damages for Keolis' refusal to hire drivers, refusal to run all the routes, that Keolis makes more money during strikes by accepting RTC's Federal money but not providing service, and other provocations — including provocations of unnecessary strikes — is financing Keolis' refusal to bargain.
"Keolis' bad faith attack on Teamster women and their families is provoking another strike. By these and other actions, Keolis has violated [National Labor Relations Act] sections 8(a)(1), (3) and (5).
"The union requests [NLRA] 10(j) relief, including an order that Keolis withdraw its regressive proposals from bargaining, particularly the proposal that permits men in Keolis' management from Texas to inflict their unilateral will on women Teamsters in Reno."
[9-24-2021]

Access NevadaLabor.com for complete background on all issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 and 2021 work stoppages.
Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

See NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including Hot August Strike 1.0 (2002) and 2.0 (Aug. 3 thru 12, 2021)

SUPERSPREADER ALERT: RED FLAG WARNING

Reno-Sparks transit system nears implosion
Transit bosses announce mask mandate compliance, then admit they won't enforce
Drivers and mechanics quit, foreign-owned corporation prospers
Mask mandate compliance still ignored. Businesses impacted.
Union calls for contractor firing

RENO, Nev. (9-17-2021) — Almost four decades after Washoe County taxpayers voted to tax themselves to pay for a new transit system, it lies near collapse with businesses large and small paying a major price.

"The bus system is the job lifeline for thousands of workers," stated Teamsters Union Local 533 President Gary Watson. "Reduced bus service should be a red flag to the largest hotel-casino and the smallest storefront," he added.

"When for-profit Keolis Transit took over on July 1, 2019, system ridership immediately nosedived fully eight months before the pandemic hit," the longtime labor leader stated.

"I'd like to see how they blame the union for that."

From July 2018 through June 2019 (RTC fiscal Year 2019), the system served 700,000 to 800,000 riders per month. Taking the midpoint and dividing 750,000 by 31 days produces a daily estimated average of 24,192 passengers.

Just four months (July thru October) into Keolis' 10-year contract, by November 2019, ridership had dipped below 700,000 and stayed there until cratering in March, 2020, when the virus hit.

From July 2020 through June 2021 (RTC fiscal Year 2021), ridership has stagnated at about 400,000 per month or 14,678 per day according to RTC Transportation Manager Mark Maloney's report to the commission of Sept. 17, 2021. (At pages 32 and 35; rtcwashoe.com/)

"Vaccines became available early this year. Apparently Keolis' lack of safety enforcement had an effect," Watson said.

NOTE: RTC'S fiscal years begin every July 1 and conclude every June 30. Keolis' tenure began in July 2019, the blue line starting at the far left, above, which represents RTC Fiscal Year 2020. Fiscal Year 2021 is repesented by the magenta line, which also begins at the far left of the graph, above.

NOTE: RTC'S fiscal year begins every July 1 and concludes every June 30.

"Operators are leaving because of chronic unsafe COVID-19 conditions and lack of enforcement, withholding of scheduled raises, and proposed elimination of a scheduling system that helps women with families. All this came after a strike became necessary to defeat the company's attempt to eliminate the advantageous Teamsters health plan,' Watson said.

"Keolis gets paid roughly 23 to 24 million taxpayer dollars a year. The French for-profit corporation is supposed to operate with 176 drivers but currently employs only 115 to 120," Watson added.


9-17-21 RTC Meeting Remarks

Good Morning, Gary Watson President Teamsters Local 533.

     Another month has passed since your last meeting. Another month of the elected officials and this MPO doing nothing to repair its broken transit system. Pointing the finger at everyone but themselves who are the overseers.
     This community needs a reliable and a safe transit system. When is the public going to get its taxes spent in their best interest? When are you as the RTC going to start holding Keolis accountable for their incompetence? This transit system is being deteriorated, the RTC is responsible for Keolis’ mismanagement, you hired them, you should fire them.
     Being 60-plus operators short with no accountability gives Keolis an extra $4 million in profits per year of tax payer money — all so our community and its passengers can suffer with reduced to no service on numerous routes. This hurts local businesses, it hurts employment and hurts the economy; no accountability hurts everyone but Keolis.
     60-plus coach operators and numerous mechanics have quit because Keolis is downright rotten to work for, they hate women and they hate all their employees. Keolis management even stated to a female employee in front of me earlier this week that they didn’t give a "F" about them or their fellow employees.
     Who states this to their employees, I tell you? Who does? The monster you hired does and you allow it and this is why your system is failing and will continue to spiral.
      The passengers deserve better. I have spoken with many of your passengers, they love their coach operators, they do not have nice things to say about Keolis. The common thing I hear from the passengers: "Keolis is the worst bus operator we have seen. Transit is unreliable."
      Listen to them, listen to the employees they are who deserve better. Keolis Transit should be held accountable, the transit workers should be treated as your community partners not your enemies.      Thank you.

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Union No.533

"We fear a system meltdown," he warned. "Our members are fed up and burned out but no one wants another strike which will only further enhance Keolis profit. They pocketed major money during last month's work stoppage.

"They have perpetrated multiple breaches of their cushy contract, the longest in RTC history. They should be terminated," Watson charged.

"Operating with a blank check and zero accountability to the Regional Transportation Commission, the fewer employed by the company, the more profit they make," Watson stated.


"The total compensation package for a top scale driver is roughly $67,000 per year. If Keolis is 61 operators short It allows the France-based multinational $4,087,000.00 more profit annually," Watson said.

(NOTE: The above calculations apply only to bus operators. Extra profit generated by the additional loss of dozens of qualified mechanics has not been tallied. In addition, no avoided cost factors such as worker injury insurance are included in this basic estimate.)

In his published report to the five elected commissioners today, Mr. Maloney notes that "Keolis is aggressively hiring and will be hosting a series of onsite job fairs for the community in coming weeks." (Agenda item 4.4, page 27)

"Keolis is indeed having job fairs — in Las Vegas. The first is scheduled for this Saturday," Watson said. The union has received no information about anything in northern Nevada.

School districts throughout northern Nevada are offering driver signing bonuses of $3,000 to $5,000. Keolis is stingy at $2,000 in a market with skyrocketing rents.

"Why hasn’t the RTC assessed contractually mandated penalties for retention, training and education?" Watson asked.

"After a month of scheduling roulette, the company agreed to come to the bargaining table," Watson said. "It has been another corporate charade," he stated.

"They used the interim delay trying to divide the workers by withholding scheduled pay raises and mickey-mousing route assignments. They are just not dealing in good faith and local government is letting them act with impunity," Watson added.

"In March of last year, RTC Executive Director Bill Thomas unilaterally removed all performance penalties in the Keolis contract, so they can cancel routes, slow down service, shift transit away from seniors and the disabled — all without sanctions. Mr. Thomas kept that a secret until the strike loomed. Keolis would owe hundreds of thousands in fines had not Mr. Thomas abdicated his authority," Watson noted.

On August 30, Mr. Thomas announced that the transit system would at long last comply with federal and state COVID-19 safety mandates. An hour later, the new bus system manager told the union that masks would not be enforced.

The Regional Transportation Commission's monthly meeting will be gaveled to order at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, in the Washoe County Commission chambers at 9th and Wells in Reno. Mr. Thomas is scheduled to give a report along with Mr. Maloney. Union members will also comment.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R), Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R) [3] and Bob Lucey (R); Reno City Councilmembers Oscar Delgado (D) and Neoma Jardon, (R), board chair. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>

Access NevadaLabor.com for complete background on all issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 amd 2021 work stoppages.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

Alabaster Bastion bucks up superspreaders
Dirty words to remember on the Ides of September
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
/
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 9-15-2021


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

See NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including Hot August Strike 1.0 (2002) and 2.0 (Aug. 3 thru 12, 2021)

SUPERSPREADER ALERT
Déjà vu all over again
Transit bosses announce mask mandate compliance, then admit they won't enforce
Foreign contractor refuses to negotiate with Teamsters

RENO, Nev. (9-1-2021) — "Who's in charge here?" asked Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson.

At 12:50 p.m. PDT August 30, Regional Transportation Commission Executive Director Bill Thomas announced (again) that the local mass transit system will enforce mask mandates: "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has extended a federal mask mandate throughout the United States across all transportation networks for all airline, bus, ferry and train passengers through January 18, 2022," Thomas stated.

"All contractor employees, RTC employees and transit customers are required to wear masks or face coverings inside all transit facilities and while riding in RTC transit vehicles in compliance with the extended mandate," Mr. Thomas added.

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Union Local 533

At 2:08 p.m. PDT the same day, the foreign-owned bus system manager undercut Thomas.

In an e-mail to Watson, new Keolis Transit General Manager Phil Pumphrey stated "requiring the drivers to enforce this policy places them in position of greater danger....drivers are not enforcers of the mask mandate, drivers are educators of the policy and reporters of infractions of the policy. Any repeater offenders could be handled by the police....you and I will have to disagree on placing the drivers as enforcers of a mask mandate."

Watson noted that "Mr. Pumphrey is new in town, their third boss in a year. Local law enforcement, including the Washoe County Sheriff's office and the Reno Police Department, announced last year that they would not enforce safety mandates. In fact, no level of government, federal, state or local, will do so. We've gone everywhere and the buck always gets passed elsewhere," the longtime labor leader stated.

"Mr. Pumphrey's employer, Keolis Transit, actually fired a young African-American mother in southern California for requesting that a passenger don a mask. She was immuno-compromised and recovering from chemotherapy so masklessness endangered her safety," Watson said, adding that "we long ago published written orders from Mr. Pumphrey's predecessors threatening drivers who enforce COVID-19 safety."

In a written response to Mr. Pumphrey, Watson stated "Drivers enforce all kinds of RTC/Keolis policies which will cause passengers to be removed if they don’t follow. To name a few: eating or drinking while on the bus, playing music, being intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, trying to board a bus without shoes, shirt or even having no pants." (The latter actually happened last year.)

"This list isn’t all inclusive, as there are many more Keolis/RTC policies that drivers are required to enforce," Watson noted.

"Keolis has a bad habit of hiding behind its lawyers who have insisted that any passenger without a mask must be assumed exempt under the Americans with Disabilities Act and any inquiry as to medical condition would violate federal law. The Teamsters solved that long ago with old-fashioned common sense. If a passenger discloses impairment after a request to wear a mask, the passenger has voluntarily released the information without the driver asking and can be accommodated. Keolis ignored us, as usual," Watson asserted.

"We have objected that Keolis/RTC refuses to use its own taxpayer-paid security force to handle the mask mandate. A uniformed presence on buses will have a big impact, as will the use of randomly assigned undercover 'air marshals,' " Watson added.

Union member Theresa Born expressed her position to Mr. Pumphrey: "As a driver, I want the ability to be able to enforce masks. My life, and the life of my immune-compromised child, are more important to me than the inconvenience of asking and reminding passengers that masks are required on board RTC buses. I was required to enforce masks in Los Angeles at the start of the pandemic, and expected the same here. I am disappointed that I am not expected to do so, or given any recourse should someone refuse," she stated.

"There is no point in mandating something that isn't enforced. I understand that there are exceptions to the mandate (including neurodivergency, medical, age and other disability). And, as always, I respect that when it happens. But otherwise, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to enforce masks in the same way that I am expected to enforce fare, food and drink policies, shirt and shoes policies, weapons policies, and various other policies. At bare minimum, we should be allowed to enforce it should we feel comfortable doing so. I think you will find many of us would feel safer at work if we were allowed to enforce this mandate, just as flight attendants enforce it on aircraft.

"I hope you reconsider mask mandate enforcement," Ms. Born concluded, "especially given that it is mandated by our state governor, but also on a federal level by TSA" (Transportation Security Administration).

Longtime bus operator Chastity Lockridge asked her boss "How about us drivers enforcing it for our own well being? Do you know how many times I have been sneezed on and coughed on at the farebox? I'm just supposed to let it happen? My regulars have a lot of respect for me because I look out for their well being and best interests. How do you think that respect will go if I stop and let someone sit next to a compromised person with no mask coughing the duration of the trip? And these are not isolated events, sir! On average, I have to tell one or two people an hour/trip to put their masks on — and again remind the same person a few minutes later. For 9.5 hours!

"This really shows that management has no clue what we go thru every day. I religiously kept track for a year and a half of how many people rode each trip and how many were non-mask compliant. On average, between 10 and 15 percent every day ! (I wrote the information on the back of ALL my Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports.) That is a lot of exposure but we are not supposed to enforce that?! My health and life are worth more than someone's inconvenience," Lockridge concluded.

The RTCRide system serves 20,000 passengers per day on average. Keolis non-compliance turns it into a superspreader.

Last month, the for-profit multi-national's continued abuse of passengers and workers led to only the second strike in the four-decade history of the transit system. After 10 days, union members went back to work only after Keolis agreed to abandon its demand that employees forfeit their health insurance through the powerful Teamsters plan and enroll in weaker company-controlled options.

"Three weeks have now gone by and Keolis still refuses to return to the bargaining table," Watson said.

"Instead, they have been trying to divide the membership, first by mickey-mousing scheduling and now withholding scheduled pay raises. They are just not dealing in good faith and local government is letting them act with impunity," Watson added.

"In March of last year, Executive Director Thomas unilaterally removed all performance penalties in their contract, so Keolis can cancel routes, slow down service, illegally shift transit away from seniors and the disabled — all without sanctions. He kept that secret until a few weeks ago as the strike loomed. Keolis would owe hundreds of thousands in fines had not Mr. Thomas abdicated his authority," Watson noted.

This week, the union won reinstatement with full back pay and benefits for two drivers unfairly fired last year. Teamsters 533 has 18 such cases in federal court. In addition the union has filed with federal agencies more than 70 charges of unfair illegal labor practices plus workplace grievances and contractual violations.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R), Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R) [3] and Bob Lucey (R); Reno City Councilmembers Oscar Delgado (D) and Neoma Jardon, (R), board chair. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>

Access NevadaLabor.com for complete background on all issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 walkout.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO
Y9/1 Maskerape/hotauguststrike/keolis19/ibt533/unews/opsn21

-30-

BUS BOSSES PUSH PR, IGNORE SAFETY
Not hiring enough drivers? Blame the drivers, of course.
Enriching a foreign corporation at taxpayer expense
Bus boss pay raise not granted

Losers, winners, saint, sinners & Yogi
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from Sparks Tribune 7-21-2021

Union leaders: Foreign contractor endangers bus riders, workers and community
By Mike Pilcher and Gary Watson / rgj.com 7-16-2021 / Reno Gazette-Journal 7-18-2021

ISN'T $220,000 A YEAR ENOUGH PAY?
Bus drivers' union opposes rewarding RTC boss for abuses
Updated 7-15, 7-16, 7-17, 7-22 & 7-23-2021
View video of the meeting

OF RATS AND HOGS: More than 650 RTCRide rides cancelled
By Bob Conrad, Publisher / ThisIsReno.com / 7-15-2021

Czar Donaldov infects Reno-Sparks bus system
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the 7-14-2021 Sparks Tribune

BUS SYSTEM BARBECUES BUS RIDERS
SUPERSPREADER SENTENCES PASSENGERS TO HEATSTROKE

19 buses sit idle on record 104-degree day / 16 routes affected
Teamsters Union president blocked from seeing members
Updated 7-10, 7-11, 7-12, 7-14 & 7-15-2021 GMT

RENO, Nev. (10 July 2021) — Washoe County's mass transit system this week placed passengers in serious physical jeopardy.

Debbie Calkins
Secretary-Treasurer & Principal Officer
She is the first woman to head the union.

"RTC Ride failed the community when it was most in need," stated Teamsters Union Local 533 President Gary Watson.

"We have had legitimate differences with the for-profit operators of the Reno-Sparks regional transportation system, but Friday's outright brutality was just plain cruel," Watson said.

"Early Friday, RTCWashoe.com showed business as usual. As the day heated up, so did the notices of routes going down. Nineteen buses serving 16 routes were idle on a record-breaking July 9 104-degree day," Watson added. [UPDATE 7-10-2021: 14 routes were posted as down 24 hours later. UPDATE 7-11-2021: 15 routes were posted as down 48 hours later. UPDATE 7-12-2021: 19 down 72 hours later.]

"The transit system often serves the least among us: the infirm, the disabled, the ill, the young, the elderly, the poor and homeless, low-wage workers, minorities, people who need to get to medical appointments. On Friday, countless numbers waited in the sun for a bus that did not come," Watson said.

"Many of those passengers do not have computers or cell phones to check the Regional Transportation Commission website. Europe-based Keolis Transit should face serious financial penalties but RTC management has taken them off the hook, so they did little or nothing because they did not have to," Watson said.

"With no liquidated damages, Keolis is in no hurry and faces no punishment for failing to hire additional drivers," Watson said.

Section 302-B of RTC's 10-year contract with Keolis Transit calls for liquidated (cash) damages to be imposed at $1000.00 per occurrence of a "missed trip." Keolis is also liable for $1,000,00 a day for not filling its general manager position within 30 days of vacancy. (Section 201-B)

"By my simple calculations, Keolis owes RTC (and thus Washoe County taxpayers) roughly $90,000.00 and perhaps much more for failing to have a GM onsite in the months of April, May and June.

"Unfortunately, RTC Executive Director Bill Thomas [1] has just informed me that he waived all penalties for the past 16 months," Watson said, "so they have no incentive to fulfill their obligations. Meanwhile, people bake in record heat while Keolis basks in millions of RTC federal relief funds while having spent only $338,000 on local safety.

"Mr. Thomas and his director of operations Mark Maloney should resign but that must wait because this rudderless ship is already too close to the iceberg. There will be a day of reckoning, but now they need to fix this mismanagement by their contractor," Watson said.

New mom/driver Athena Duffy with Teamsters Local 533 Business Agent Ross Kinson at the 5-21-21 RTC meeting

"The community needs all hands on deck, not a bureaucracy washing its hands of accountability as they have for almost 40 years."

Watson was in the field all day Friday and was threatened with arrest for trespassing at the downtown Reno bus station. [2] RTC security even called 911 while a Keolis bureaucrat screamed threats and obscenities at Watson. [VIEW THE VIDEO]

"The security staff has not been allowed to enforce mask and safety mandates for more than a year while drivers have been under threat of firing for attempting to do so," Watson stated.

"We have had dozens of bus operators contract the virus. Two were even admitted to intensive care fighting for their lives. But RTC's mediocre middle managers waste time by stopping me from legally talking with drivers."

Teamsters Local 533 has more than 70 charges and filings pending at regulatory and judicial levels. The union's health insurance fund has sued Keolis for $50,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums dating to 2019.

"Perhaps Keolis can't attract new drivers because they are not offering livable wages," Watson said.

Nationally and locally, France-based Keolis has a record of hiring "permanent temps" who work for low pay with no benefits and has kept them past the 90-day threshold when they could become full-time employees with union pay and health insurance.

"They even had one guy from back east driving an employee shuttle who did not know that buses must stop at in-service railroad tracks. Not the guy I'd want behind the wheel if I'm a passenger," Watson said.

"Keolis should return to the bargaining table with a problem-solving attitude to fix the mess they've made.

"Rather than put people in danger in 104-degree heat waiting for buses that never come, corporate greed for once should take a back seat to public need," Watson concluded.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R), Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R) [3] and Bob Lucey (R); Reno City Councilmembers Oscar Delgado (D) and Neoma Jardon, (R), board chair. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>


See NevadaLabor.com for links, references, VIDEO, photos and complete background on these issues and Teamsters/RTC history.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis workers.

[2] The July 9 video shows Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson getting 86’d from RTC Washoe property — public property — by RTC security and warned he would be arrested for trespassing on RTC property because, according to them, he didn’t have any authority for being on public property or visit with his membership. These guys don't know much about labor law. The security guard called for backup and requested Reno Police assistance, a textbook case of illegal and actionable conduct.

Right before the video was recorded, Keolis Safety Manager Brian Platfoot threatened and cursed Watson loudly enough for passengers to hear and witness it. The RTC security guard was also right there witnessing. What did he do to the out-of-control Mr. Platfoot? You guessed it, nothing. Being an angry manager who hates the union president and its membership is an acceptable practice at RTC Washoe and Keolis Transit. In this case, he was caught plat-footed in front of multiple witnesses.

[3] "Isn't 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.

Bill Thomas' Big Lie

They are canceling routes and not calling people for overtime. Isn't that in the contract? I haven't gotten a call in a couple weeks. But they're canceling routes anyway and leaving people out in the heat. Attached is the Facebook post RTC put out to the public. Funny how they said "unforeseen." They knew. Soooo many lies. Hope u are having a great day! (7-11-2021)

In Solidarity,

(A longtime Teamsters bus operator, name witheld for obvious reasons)

And now, the awful truth...

Unforeseen? Actually, unaccountable.

"The pandemic  created a significant impact on all transit services. In order to allow our contract providers maximum flexibility to adjust schedules to accommodate employees who might have symptoms, starting in March 2020 we determined it necessary to pause both the incentives and the liquidated damages provisions of our service contracts." — RTC Washoe Executive Director Bill Thomas, via e-mail 7-9-2021

"The last thing I want is anybody to show up to a bus stop in the heat you guys are experiencing and not get a ride."— Mike Ake, Keolis Transit regional VP (ThisIsReno.com 7-11-2021)

"They're supposed to be calling the extra work list. It's my understanding they're not." — Gary Watson (ThisIsReno.com 7-11-2021)

 

Czar Donaldov infects Reno-Sparks bus system
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the 7-14-2021 Sparks Tribune

Read 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."

THE AWFUL TRUTH

Mr. Jackson 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.)

The transit 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.

Some employees 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 and workers.

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

RTC: "We are world-class virus smiters" Teamsters: "And world-renowned liars"
By Kristen Hackbarth / This Is Reno 2-3-2021

2002 RTC Transit Strike Archive

The latest addition to Teamsters Local 533's Road Show (needs a little paint)

 

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