Teamsters Local 533 today told This Is Reno a third bus strike is imminent.
“There are no definite plans at this point in time, but a strike is imminent,” Teamsters’ Gary Watson said today. “Keolis gave us their final and best offer but it’s below market rate.”
Keolis is the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission’s transit contractor. Teamers represent the workers. A new strike will be the third one this year.
Watson said negotiations have been ongoing and productive. Reno Councilmember Neoma Jardon attended negotiations.
“We made substantial progress with Ms. Jardon, but she inserted herself in negotiations” over the issue of wages and pensions, Watson said. “That hardened Keolis’ stance.”
Jardon said she didn’t know what Watson was talking about.
A document by Keolis provided to This Is Reno showed Keolis is offering a 12% wage increase over the next three years at 4% a year. A $1,000 “ratification bonus” was also offered.
“The proposed increase in wages is more than double the average rate of inflation for the last five calendar years and makes working at Keolis more competitive than comparable jobs in Washoe County – both public and private,” the letter by Keolis’ Phil Pumphrey noted. “This means the wage growth is higher than a cost-of-living increase.
“This offer marks a significant step in the collective bargaining process, and we appreciate that union leadership met us at the table to discuss the articles in the new contract,” Pumphrey added. “This best and final offer will put Keolis team members in a strong position to continue delivering excellent service for our passengers and supporting the wellbeing of their families.”
The “best and final” offer is what Watson said was not enough.
“Keolis doesn’t care about anything but profits,” he said. “The RTC doesn’t care either. They’re not paying enough to hire people.”
Watson also reiterated the Union’s call for RTC to assess liquidated damages onto Keolis if Keolis cancels bus rides.
This story is developing and may be updated.
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.