"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." Joseph Pulitzer
NEWS >HOT AUGUST STRIKE!
Teamsters Local 533 strikes foreign-owned RTC bus contractor Keolis Transit
"The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have." Kierkegaard
on your hiking boots and pick up a picket
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / NevadaLabor.com 8-10-2021 / Expanded from Sparks Tribune 8-11-2021 / Expansions in blue
"I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."
On the smoky streets of Reno, Nevada
"I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."
So goes an ancient proverb popularized by Helen Keller.
You can see a living example of that wisdom most days in downtown Reno right now.
Logan Lansborough was born with congenital absence of the tibia, his father Michael told me.
"At 17 months old, Logan had an operation to amputate both his legs. When Keolis first took over the (Sparks-Reno) transit system contract, I was trying to get Logan some new prosthetic legs but the company making the legs told me that Anthem/Blue Cross/Blue Shield had informed them that I had been terminated from Keolis employment which was untrue. I had never missed work other than doctors appointments while Keolis always continued to deduct my premiums," Michael added.
Michael Lansborough is a Teamsters union member and bus operator. His son Logan, in his wheelchair, has braved the smoke and the heat and worked the picket line with his dad and other union members since they took the bus system on strike eight days ago. You may have seen Logan on TV news.
I've been through more than a few strikes, but this is the first that had a dyed-in-the-wool poster child.
The greedy scrooges who run the bus system want to take away the health insurance that will provide 10 year-old Logan with more opportunities in life.
For the past four decades, local pols have handed the bus system (and untold millions of tax dollars) to for-profit contractors. Former Sparks Councilmember and Greenbrae Elementary School principal John Mayer told me years ago that he favored cutting out the middlemen and letting the Regional Transportation Commission staff run the bus system. John advocated for that when he served on RTC but found himself a lonely voice. The system is now set up so that nothing is anybody's fault, a bureaucrat and politicians' dream. (Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson now represents the Rail City on RTC.)
Current Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus has echoed Mayer's position, again a voice in the wilderness. So now, the second strike in 40 years has happened and what do the pols and six-figure staffers do blame those greedy workers, of course.
The France-based multinational currently sucking up millions in local and federal money is Keolis-19. They are now threatening to hire strikebreakers and fire all the workers. It's illegal, but who cares?
They knew about this strike coming months ago. When other contractors feared walkouts, they imported rats immediately paid for with taxpayer money, of course, whether or not they ever worked a day. Keolis has been unable to do so. Wonder why?
Would you want to work for an outfit that intentionally puts both workers and passengers at risk of the plague and death? Should you insist that a passenger wear a mask, you can get fired Keolis actually did that to a young African-American mother in LA who was immuno-compromised due to chemotherapy.
That's how they run their plantation.
The bus system serves the least among us minorities, the very young and very old, the disabled, the homeless, the poor, the ill, the weak, the homeless, the low-wage worker. They should not have to risk their lives and those of the transit workers just to get where they need to go.
Now, Keolis has shunted the shuttle services for the elderly and disabled to service downtown casinos.
This vampire needs to go back to France. I understand that night-time four-horse carriage services in Transylvania may need experienced management.
RICHARD TRUMKA, 1949-2021. The great AFL-CIO leader died of a heart attack last week. I wrote several years ago that the ideal replacement for former mineworker Trumka would be the current leader of the flight attendants union, Sarah Nelson. It's high time that the torch of organized labor be passed to a media savvy lady who knows how to fight.
If the Nevada State AFL-CIO convention still comes to town later this month, maybe she will show up and campaign for the job. I invited her to César Chávez Day last year, then this plague thing happened.
OMEN FROM THE CYBERGODS. I did a quick websearch to confirm Brother Trumka's age and guess what? Big Google in the sky flashed "People also search for Liz Shuler, George Meany and drum roll, please SARAH NELSON."
Shuler is now acting head of the international AFL-CIO and reportedly wants the top job. Meany was one of the worst AFL-CIO leaders ever he supported Richard Nixon, fergawdsakes.
Shuler and Meany, understandable. Nelson high on Google returns, the gods are speaking.
Will organized labor listen? If Sister Nelson, 48, makes it to the top, remember Barbwire readers got it years early.
AULD LANG SYNE. Tomorrow begins year 34 of the Barbwire in this newspaper. The first installment, "The Chilling of Hot August Nights," appeared on August 12, 1988. (My first byline in the Trib ran in 1973.)
My tenure still does not come close to the great Carl Shelly, the namesake of Sparks' Carl Shelly Park at Baring and McCarran. The former Nevada assemblymember, D-Sparks, and Washoe County commissioner once owned the Tribune and continued contributing articles well into his nineties.
He was one of the most impressive business leaders I've ever dealt with, the kind of reasonable person who should hold public office. Carl is the bedrock reason that Shelly's True Value Hardware is still around in Sparks' Greenbrae Center, having survived the onslaught of the chains, several recessions and the Internet.
Stay cool. Stay safe. Stay tuned.
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
¡Sí se puede!
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (And my French.)
Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com, SenJoeNeal.org, BallotBoxing.US, ConsumerCoalitionv.com, Rentvolution.org, MIssissippiWestNV.org and CesarChavezNevada.com among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SEE, HEAR & SPEAK NO EVIL DEPT. The current unaccountable politicians who seem content to provoke a strike are Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R), Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R), and Bob Lucey (R); Reno City Councilmembers Oscar Delgado (D) and Neoma Jardon, (R) board chair. Mr. Delgado and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He is currently CEO of the (for real) Community Health Alliance of Washoe County. Go figger.
Regional Transportation Commission board e-mail <email@example.com> / RTC Executive Director Bill Thomas who gets paid $220,000 a year to look out the window while waiting to go to lunch.
Softshoe fascism in Reno
A quickie class on constitutional & labor law for French bus bosses and their client as Hot August Strike 2.0 gets hotter
RENO, NV, USA (11 August 2021) The English language offers a catchy catch-all term applied to situations where the power of government is abused to impose the will of big-money big business upon the disfavored. It's called fascism.
Nevada has long been a poster child for just about every permutation of fascism, usually of the soft-shoe variety. Most are common corporate welfare depredations where dirty deals get done dirt cheap and allow honking hogs to gorge at the public trough in short, trickle-down economics.
But sometimes, the big bucks boys order the government to do their dirty work for them. The victims can blame the government and besides, it's cheaper.
So it was Tuesday afternoon when the local bus bosses and their French puppeteers from Keolis Transit sicced Reno police on peaceful union picketers.
Eight days into a bus strike, Reno Police Department (RPD) officers on Tuesday were called to the Fourth Street Bus station for allegations of trespassing on Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) property against Teamsters Local 533 union members," reported the estimable Jeri Chadwell at ThisIsReno.com/
Some weasel from the Regional Transportation Commission accused the striking workers of trespassing on private property. Except it's not. It's not only public property but it also exists for the most public of uses: It's local government's bus terminal.
Have these cats even bothered to research Reno City Code? It has enough loopholes to drive a busload of Teamsters thru. The overlords won't need to research applicable law and precedent. Union counsel sent them the bible several weeks ago. (See NevadaLabor.com for chapter and verse.) Maybe now they will read it. Hope springs eternal.
"Theyre trying to take us away from the building saying we cant sit under the shade structures, saying we cant have our own shade structures and that we need to stay four to six feet away from the street, Teamsters Vice-President Chris Fuqua told journalist Chadwell.
That observation drips with the cynicism of irony. For the past 17 months, the France-based bus bogglers refused to enforce federal, state or local social distancing and mask mandates, turning the local mass transit system into a superspreader. They've provoked a strike and now want their workers socially distanced from, ahem, the streets apparently caring more for asphalt than employees.
Is it any wonder, then, that the workers will fight such an obtuse outfit for their health insurance? Keolis-19 wouldn't even use its own in-house security staff to get people to wear masks. Dozens of drivers were sickened, two hospitalized in ICU.
Now at this late date, the bus bosses have hired doorshaker goons to keep their own striking drivers off both public property and the street.
Wait a sec, Pierre. Have you looked down there? You will see only two kinds of property: the bus station and the streets. Maybe they think picketers can magically levitate upon request.
The cops have told the Teamsters to stay on the sidewalks and away from the "private property" bus station. But there ain't no such critter.
Union counsel's detailed seven-page law class letter and a memo to Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve may be viewed at NevadaLabor.com, where Ms. Chadwell's most excellent story may also be accessed.
Here's some gratuitous legal advice for Keolis Transit and their bus system client: If you get sued and lose a civil rights case, you automatically have to pay the other side's legal fees. (Sorry, I can't provide a French translation.)
Stay cool. Stay safe. Stay tuned.
Be well. Raise hell. / être bien, élever l'enfer
Andrew Quarantino Barbano
For all the news you never knew you needed to know 'til now, subscribe to BARBWIRE CONFIDENTIAL>Cheap. (HushHush!) Hie thee to BallotBoxing.US/
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno /