Story and Video by Bob Conrad | Photos by Ty O’Neil
The second bus workers’ strike this year is entering its third week. On Saturday, a group of those workers marched from the Fourth Street bus station to City Plaza in downtown Reno with a message to the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission: “Fire Keolis.”
Keolis North America is RTC’s contractor to provide transit services in the Truckee Meadows. Worker complaints include what they called shoddy handling of pandemic precautions that led to bus drivers getting sick with COVID-19 and working without a bargaining agreement since July 1.
Negotiations are scheduled again for Monday but many at the Saturday rally said they want Keolis gone from the Reno community.
Reno City Council member Jenny Brekhus chastised her colleagues who are on the RTC board for what she said was lack of support for the workers during the pandemic and not doing enough to ensure RTC resources are spread equally throughout the community.
“People are recognizing we are not getting the outcomes we deserve with our public investment in transportation dollars, and it’s becoming very evident,” she said.
Mike Pilcher with the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council said working families are now striking back against large corporations.
“Workers have had enough in this country,” he said. “Our community must stand arm-in-arm, shoulder-to-shoulder and toe-to-toe to tell the RTC to fire Keolis.”
About 100 people attended the rally. At one point, when an RTC bus drove by, the crowd yelled at the bus, calling the driver a scab.
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 from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.