RENO, NV (Friday, May
14, 2004) Reports of gross incompetence have now been joined
by proof of corporate skulduggery as the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe garbage strike
enters its second week.
On Wednesday at the Fernley transfer station (on Interstate 80 east
of Sparks), a Waste Management driver crossed the picket line, then
got out of his truck and challenged picketers to trespass in order to
get a piece of him and his baseball bat. Just how dumb do these guys
think we are?
Teamsters filed a complaint with the Lyon County Sheriff's office.
The Reno transfer station on Commercial Row generated several reports
of unsafe driving. One curb-crushing turn came too close for comfort
in the view of a longtime NAACP civil rights leader who got out her
cane to march with the strikers.
taught me to always support unions," Mary Valencia Wilson
said, "and don't forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
was in Memphis to support striking union garbage workers when he was
assassinated," she added.
No, we haven't forgotten that one.
A local Latino leader spent a couple of hours walking Commercial Row
on Thursday and related stories from strikers about the company having
ordered them not to speak any language but English on the job. This
begs the question of in what language do you yell "fire" or
"look out below" when there's no time think? If that dumpster
is about to fall on José, do you really have time to research
the English translation?
This is very reminiscent of a self-inflicted black eye suffered by the
union-busting Eldorado Hotel-Casino a few years back. The Carano clan
ordered the downtown Reno hotel's staff to speak nothing but English
at all times. After the order was made public, the policy was quickly
MANGLE THE MESSAGE
The best strike news coverage in the past 36 hours has come from KRNV
TV-4, the local NBC affiliate, which led its 11:00 p.m. Thursday,
May 13, newscast by stating that workers will face two ratification
votes this weekend, a very rare situation. Apparently, the new proposed
health plan will be voted on separately from the company's contract
proposal. That's not a good sign. [UPDATE: A choice of two health
plans will be presented on May 15, but health care won't be an issue
separate from the main agreement.]
This may dovetail into what
some Latino workers were saying on the picket line on Thursday. Some
complained of thousands of dollars of unpaid medical bills under the
company's current health plan. More on this as soon as we can get details
from the Teamsters. [UPDATE: Confirmed. This became a major factor
driving the strike vote.]
The biggest news clunker of the past 36 hours was perpetrated by KOLO
TV-8 (ABC). On its 11:00 p.m. newscast on Wednesday, May 12, TV-8
stated that no news was available about the progress of talks. All that
their sterling investigative reporters had to do was go to this website
or read the three e-mails which we sent to the entire news staff during
the day. Perhaps that's too much work. At minimum, they could have watched
Channel 4, which got it right. (Do you sense a pattern?)
The quality of local journalism has gotten softer with the wilting of
garbage in the sun. The print media have not distinguished themselves.
After a sterling start, the Sparks
Tribune has ignored the strike in its last two editions. Isn't trash
accumulating on the streets of the Rail City, too? Guess watersports
at the Marina is of much greater public concern. [UPDATE: Friday
made it three days in a row. Go figure.]
The Reno Gazette-Journal earns about a C+ for its Friday, May 14, edition
in which appear three stories. Barely worth the ink is a softball editorial
board opinion which basically advises everyone to make kissy face and
settle this soon so everyone can get milk and cookies. If you don't
think it could possibly be that innocuous,
read it yourself.
The Kazoo-Journal also ran a Friday
article on the non-progress of talks. (They should have watched
Channel 4 before putting the final edition to bed.) The Reno paper's
article provided a link to Waste Management's website but not
to the only labor website. This one.
As usual, workers count for less. The RGJ's WM site info even notes
that recycling will not be picked up for awhile. Please read below for
a more creative use for your recyclables.
At least the RGJ confirmed the story of the evacuation of Sierra Pacific
Power's corporate HQ, a story we distributed
two days earlier. Apparently, a rat driver didn't know that you're
supposed to check for clearance in an enclosed area. Hoisting a trash
compactor, he broke an overhead fire sprinkler which set off the building's
alarms. SPP HQ on Neil Road houses the nerve center for the region's
electrical grid. And that's not the most egregious of wholesale safety
Sierra Pacific's employees
have done the labor movement proud. We've gotten reports of SPP service
trucks turning around at the sight of a picket line at the Lockwood
Landfill. (Probably members of International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers Local 1245.)
ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU...
The RGJ also provided a bit of grindingly high irony: Veteran reporter
Susan Voyles related that your tax dollars
which will be paying for Reno's $260 million+ gift to Union Pacific
(better known as the downtown railroad trench) until ex-President Jenna
Bush is well along on writing the memoirs of her eight years in
the Oval Office your money
is being spent to hire non-union drivers to haul contaminated dirt from
the trench to the Lockwood Landfill. Read
it and weep Better yet,
get ahold of Reno City Hall.
If not for the substantial political support which organized labor,
including the Teamsters Union, gave the trench, it would not be under
construction today. For their thanks, the union garbage workers get
rats crossing their lines at the dump.
ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME
Another strike may happen this week as the Communications
Workers continue extended talks with SBC.
Nevada organized labor got two major pieces of legislation passed for
the former Southwestern Bell Corporation in the 2001 and 2003 legislative
sessions. The former facilitated SBC's entry into Gomorrah South's lucrative
local telephone market. The latter was a bill no one could understand
and which even those pimping it the major phone and cable bandidos
could not explain the need for.
Lack of need or inadequate
knowledge has never stopped Nevada lawmakers before and this was no
exception. It was left to Nevada Consumer Advocate Timothy Hay
to speak the truth the "broadband parity" bill simply
allows SBC, Sprint, Cox and Charter
Communications to cut up the market between them and freeze out
For all this help, the Communications Workers are seeing their jobs
sent to India. A recent test showed eight of 10 calls flushed down the
Ganges to the land of Gandhi. Pray for transcendental enlightenment.
Or at least a little common decency. But don't hold your breath.
The Reno News & Review's May 13 garbage strike editorial ("a
union is about as close to pure democracy as it gets these days")
was much stronger than the RGJ's, but the best comment can still be
made by aggrieved ratepayers like you. Some of those interviewed
on Thursday's late news groused that they deserve a rebate on their
bills for services not rendered.
Let your local officials
know about it. Click
here for complete Reno-Sparks-Washoe County contact information.
Tell 'em the Barbwire sent
I also suggest that you do your bit by taking your recycling to Waste
Management corporate headquarters at 100 Vassar Street, one block east
of S. Virginia in Reno. Recycling won't be picked up until the trash
backlog is cleared, and that gets further away every day. So lodge a
properly physical protest by running your recycling to the house that
garbage built. Tell 'em the Barbwire sent you by.
A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
Our calls for support have not gone unheeded. Assemblyman Tom Collins,
D-Las Vegas, a member of the IBEW and currently a candidate for the
Clark County Commission, sent this to local government leaders: "Please
get those unsafe drivers off the road. Your county needs qualified workers
who contribute to your community. I hope you intervene and settle this
for your constituents and for the safety and well being of your neighbors."
In another letter, Collins stated "Please end this horrible strike.
There are too many risks to your community with unqualified strikebreakers
driving your streets. Help your constituents get back to work. They
contribute to your community and live in it . Assemblyman Tom Collins"
"Power to the people" wrote Roy Noring of Reno.
'A lot of unions have been
not only marching with the strikers, but also bringing food and refreshments,
the IBEW and the American Postal Workers Union among them. This came
in from the APWU:
To the Brothers and Sisters of Teamsters Local
I want every member of your Local to know you are making the Right
Management will take every opportunity to reduce wages and benefits
enrich their pocketbooks whenever they can.
The workers in your profession are subjected to the Omnibus Transportation
Act which requires workers to be subjected to random drug tests
they operate commercial vehicles. This alone is an invasion of
but the workers of your local comply and have an excellent safety
The workers of Local 533 provide a service that is second to none.
public needs this service.
In an article recently published by (The New York Times') Bob
Herbert, he states: "Normally labor gets about 65 percent
and corporate profits about 15 to 18 percent." Obviously,
Waste Management would like to change that balance.
study is very clear on this point," Mr Herbert states. "The
bulk of the gains did not go to the workers, but instead were
used to boost profits, lower prices, or increase CEO compensation."
Simply put, sacrifice the workers benefits to enrich the corporate
Sound familiar? Since 2001, which was the end of the last recession,
have received the lowest wage increases on record.
Local members, the service you provide is second to none. The
can't tolerate a strike. They (the community) will rally and solidarity
late but I support your efforts.
Exec. Vice President
NV State APWU AFL-CIO
Reno Local 936 AFL-CIO
Please keep up the pressure
No matter how many hundreds of thousands of dollars Waste Management
spends importing strikebreakers, it's become obvious that they can't
find enough unionbusters to get the job done. Trash has been piling
up all over Reno-Sparks-Tahoe.
I hope the Teamsters maintain solidarity and bring the company to a
Organized labor has given away too much to corporate America over the
past 25 years.
Now's the time to strike for equity and fairness.
Keep them cards and letters coming in.
Be well. Raise hell.
GARBAGE STRIKE NEWS LINKS AND UPDATES
12, 2004, STRIKE UPDATE
TO MAIN STRIKE NEWS PAGE
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS STRIKE AGAINST SBC