By Andrew Barbano
Drivers at Bell Limousine in Reno, Nevada, have voted overwhelmingly to become members of Teamsters Local 533.
“I applaud the efforts of our newest members and I’m excited to have them as our proud Teamster brothers and sisters,” said Teamsters Local 533 Secretary-Treasurer Debbie Calkins.
Drivers began organizing themselves in an effort to improve their working conditions by becoming union members.
“We’re standing up for workers in our profession so all drivers can have a voice in every matter that affects us,” said Kim Jenkins, a full-time driver at Bell Limo. “At Bell Limo, high turnover from wage issues, benefits and scheduling have caused good drivers to leave.”
At one time, drivers were proud to work at Bell Limousine, considering it the “premier limousine provider.” However, after the company was sold, their hourly rate of pay was taken away and a varying commission-based pay structure was introduced.
Drivers lost over $3 an hour in pay and many were forced to take second jobs to provide for their families. In many cases, their second job actually became their primary source of income.
Sparked by the belief that one job should be enough and that all workers deserve a living wage, the drivers began a campaign to become members of Teamsters Local 533. Their organizing campaign culminated in a 100% yes vote on October 23, 2019.
“I urge others to vote to unionize because when workers vote, workers win,” said Jenkins.
Now, Bell Limo Drivers look forward to negotiating with the company to improve their wages and benefits. And for the drivers, these improvements will be important for their families, but they will also ensure Bell Limo is once again the premier limousine service company by putting the company in a better position to retain long-term, dedicated employees.
“In an effort to grow Teamster density, Teamsters Local 533 and Teamsters Local 856 have partnered together to share organizing resources and raise industry standards for all workers in the Reno area,” said Peter Finn, Secretary-Treasurer/Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 856.
“This partnership is the first victory of many to come for the Teamster Organizing Network, which is a network of locals whose aim is to further Teamster organizing and help workers unionize,” said Chris Rosell, director of Organizing for Local 856.