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Strike over, Teamsters to return to bargaining table

By Kristen Hackbarth
Members of Teamsters Local 533 strike near the bus station at Fourth and Lake streets Aug. 12, 2021 in Reno, Nev. Image: Bob Conrad / This Is Reno

Union officials representing Teamsters Local 533 late Thursday said an agreement on health care with Keolis North America has ended their strike and union representatives would return to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract.

Union president Gary Watson made the announcement just after 11 p.m.

Keolis has been the bus transit contractor for the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County for the past two years. Teamsters members–about 200 in all–had been striking for 10 days for what representatives said was Keolis’ attempt to gut the union’s private health care trust during collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

The union’s contract with Keolis expired June 30.

Keolis representatives have disputed the union’s characterization of the health care proposal put forth in early negotiations.

In a statement issued shortly after the union’s, RTC representatives said that union officials signed a memorandum of understanding to maintain the health care benefits at issue and to not stop work again in the near future. Dates for both parties to return to the bargaining table have yet to be set. 

“The Union looks forward to Keolis meeting us at the bargaining table with good intentions and bargaining in good faith moving forward,” Watson said. “We are glad our members are getting back to work doing what they do best, servicing the transit passengers in the Reno, Sparks and Washoe County region.”

Workers have until Saturday, Aug. 14 to return to work, but some may report to work as early as Friday to service the dozens of routes that were halted during the strike.

RTC chairperson and Reno City Council member Neoma Jardon said she was grateful that both parties were able to end the strike, which significantly impacted RTC customers.

“On behalf of the RTC, I want to thank Keolis and the Teamsters for coming together for the greater good of our community and end the strike. A huge thank you to Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve who worked diligently behind the scenes to bring the parties together after a meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon did not come to fruition,” Jardon said.

As of 7:45 a.m. Friday, RTC’s website still lists a number of service disruptions on area bus routes. Riders can check https://www.rtcwashoe.com/public-transportation/ for the current list of service disruptions and updates.

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