Bus workers today hit the picket line again in protest of what they say are unfair labor practices by their employer, Keolis North America.
As first reported by This Is Reno last week, the third strike was imminent after Teamsters Local 533 said all but a final wage increase were successfully negotiated.
Gary Watson with the union said the 4% increase each year for the next three years is not sufficient for local transit workers. The union is asking for a 5.8% increase to meet inflation and the skyrocketing cost of living in the Reno area.
“Three strikes and they should be out,” Watson told This Is Reno today. “This is ridiculous.”
Keolis’ Mike Ake said today, however, the 4%, which is Keolis’ “best and final offer” is more than other transit workers in the region have seen.
“We believe the best and final offer that we presented … is more than fair and will help our employees enjoy productive careers,” Ake said.
The employees have been working without a collective bargaining agreement since July.
Watson said the Washoe Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) executive, Bill Thomas, needs to step in.
“Hold your contractor accountable,” he demanded.
Michael Moreno with RTC said RTC is disappointed with the third strike.
“We urge the Teamsters and Keolis to continue with the bargaining process and find a solution,” he said.
Tensions increase at bus station
The strike was announced today at 11 a.m. Angry, stranded passengers at the Fourth Street bus station sporadically yelled at the striking workers as buses arriving at the station went out of service.
One person threw a Starbucks drink at the picketing workers, almost causing a physical altercation. Private security escorted the man off the property.
Others yelled at the bus drivers, screamed obscenities and told them to get back to work. Some union members yelled back.
“Tell it to Keolis,” they said.
RTC will pay for taxis and Uber rides
RTC officials said they are offering taxi and Uber rides since bus routes will be severely reduced. They told riders to expect delays. There are also $20 limits on Uber rides. Limited FlexRIDE services are also available.
Passengers can call RTC Customer Service Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. for assistance. That number is 775-348-RIDE.
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.