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RTC offering free rides during worker strike


The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission is making available free rides through its available services and UberX for its regular riders. The announcement made today comes in the wake of a second strike announced by the union representing bus workers.

“RTC will offer free rides on RIDE, FlexRIDE, taxi and UberX for all regular transit users when a strike is called by the Teamsters until the Collective Bargaining Agreement is final,” RTC’s board chair said in a statement to the news media. 

People needing a ride are asked to call 775-348-RIDE (7433).

Meanwhile, barbs continued to be thrown between the union, Teamsters Local 533 and Keolis Keolis North America, RTC’s contractor.

Company blames union for strike

Keolis is blaming the union for the strike.

“The fact that this Union’s leadership is putting their personal interests above our passengers and our workforce—both of which deserve certainty and stability — is what is most deeply disappointing to us,” Keolis’ Mike Ake said. “As we have stated on numerous occasions, Keolis remains committed to being a good-faith negotiation partner and we hope that this Union’s Leadership will quickly return to negotiations for the benefit of our shared employees—and the passengers.”

RTC Board Chair Neoma Jardon also said the union pulled a fast one on the public by announcing a strike yesterday at noon.

“We were caught off guard by the second strike initiated by the Teamsters Local 533 on Monday,” she said. “While the RTC has no control over when a strike is called or ended, we believe it is imperative to step in to ensure our riders do not continue to be negatively impacted by these repetitive strikes.”

Union bites back

Union President Gary Watson, however, said Keolis is continuing to negotiate in bad faith. Yet another complaint was filed by the union to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging Keolis has not hired enough drivers and “Keolis’ bad faith attack on Teamster women and their families [was] provoking another strike.” 

That complaint was filed last week, prior to yesterday’s strike.

Watson said the union has filed more than 100 labor complaints against Keolis since 2019, when the company took over as RTC’s contractor to provide transit services in the Reno area. 

“We have 17 charges consolidated into an order … and they are pending trial before an NLRB judge in December 2021,” he said. “It was scheduled for this week but Keolis delayed the process for failing to provide evidence. We also have an additional 12 and counting charges being consolidated into another order that the board found merit on and this will go before an NLRB judge at a future date, more charges will be consolidated into this order before we get a date.”

Watson also said they withdrew complaints after what he said was compliance by Keolis.

“We have 34 additional charges pending the NLRB for decisions,” he added.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.