BREAKING NEWS AND THEN SOME—>

SUPERSPREADER UPDATE

Briana Lucas photo

9-20-2021 GMT

SUPERSPREADER ALERT
RED FLAG WARNING
Reno-Sparks transit system nears implosion
Transit bosses announce mask mandate compliance, then admit they won't enforce
Drivers and mechanics quit, foreign-owned corporation prospers
Mask mandate compliance still ignored. Businesses impacted.
Union calls for contractor firing

Alabaster Bastion bucks up superspreaders
Dirty words to remember on the Ides of September
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
/
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 9-15-2021

 

HOT AUGUST STRIKE!

SUPERSPREADER ALERT
Teamsters handbill downtown Reno bus terminal
Charges filed against transit bosses for cell-block bidding
Foreign corporation ignores union contract offer, insists on running scheduling from Texas
Mask mandate compliance still ignored

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

RENO, Nev, (9-14-2021 10:00 a.m. PDT / 17:00 GMT) — Right now, Teamsters union members are handbilling the downtown Reno bus terminal in protest of the latest in a long line of worker abuses. Foreign-owned Keolis Transit wants to move operator scheduling to Texas, disrupting a local system which has worked well for almost 40 years.

Tweet of a Teamsters handbill/flyer
More Smoking Guns

      "Last Friday, we filed the latest of almost 100 charges of illegal unfair labor practices or worker abuse grievances," stated Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson while handing out flyers to passengers at the E. 4th Street facility.
      The filing with the National Labor Relations Board states that "Within the past six months, Keolis Transit America has violated the National Labor Relations Act by rejecting a bidding proposal that resolves all of management's claimed concerns with the current contract and by insisting that men operating a computer program in Texas determine shifts rather than women Teamsters in Reno."
      Watson noted that "the company's proposal wipes out a successful and harmonious driver scheduling system which has been in place since the 1982 creation of the Regional Transportation System of Washoe County.

      "It allowed drivers, especially working mothers, to integrate their work into their lives, not make it an obstacle. An operator with a medical appointment or a sick child could bid on available routes which fit her family's needs," Watson said, adding that "today, some physicians in Reno-Sparks have no appointments available until mid-2022.
CELL-BLOCK SCHEDULING
      "Keolis wants computer guys in Texas to mandate a strait-jacket schedule. The current system is like a cafeteria buffet. Their alternative is the equivalent of an 'eat this and shut up' prisoners lunch. The union and its members will not stand for Cell-block Scheduling," the longtime labor leader added.
      "All last year, Keolis delayed bargaining on a new contract, knowing that the existing union agreement would expire on June 30, 2021. They are now throwing every roadblock they can into the path of a new deal," Watson added. Under federal law, the expired contract remains in force until an updated one is ratified by the union membership.
      On August 3, the for-profit multi-national corporation's continued abuse of passengers and workers led to only the second strike in the four-decade history of the transit system. After 10 days, union members went back to work only after Keolis agreed in writing to abandon its demand that employees forfeit their health insurance through the powerful Teamsters plan and enroll in weaker company-controlled options.
      "After a month of scheduling roulette after the strike was place on hold, the company agreed to come to the bargaining table for two days last week," Watson said.
      "They used the interim delay trying to divide the workers by withholding scheduled pay raises and mickey-mousing route assignments. They are just not dealing in good faith and local government is letting them act with impunity," Watson added.
      "In March of last year, RTC Executive Director
Bill Thomas unilaterally removed all performance penalties in their contract, so Keolis can cancel routes, slow down service, shift transit away from seniors and the disabled — all without sanctions. He kept that secret until the strike loomed. Keolis would owe hundreds of thousands in fines had not Mr. Thomas abdicated his authority," Watson noted.
      Last week on August 30, Mr. Thomas announced that the transit system would at long last comply with federal and state COVID-19 safety mandates. An hour later, the new bus system manager told the union that masks would not be enforced.
      The Regional Transportation Commission's next monthly meeting will be held on Friday, Sept. 17, in the Washoe County Commission chambers at 9th and Wells in Reno. Mr. Thomas is scheduled to give a report.
            Access NevadaLabor.com for complete background on all issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 and 2021 work stoppages.
      Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

Déjà vu all over again
Transit bosses announce mask mandate compliance, then admit they won't enforce
Foreign contractor refuses to negotiate with Teamsters
RENO, Nev. (9-1-2021) — "Who's in charge here?" asked Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson.
[Much more]

 

Union president excoriates Regional Transportation Commissioners' dereliction
RTC board meeting 8-20-2021

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Union Local 533

RENO, Nev., USA (8-20-2021) — Good morning; Gary Watson, President, Teamsters Local 533.

First off, I am commenting on agenda item 4.1, the minutes of the previous board meeting from July 16, 2021. The community members who spoke in public comment were not speaking about a union strike as a strike had not occurred. They spoke to the board about the incompetence of your contractor, Keolis Transit. It’s a disservice to the community members to incorrectly quote them, and poor record keeping for a recorded meeting. This should be accurately recorded.

All of you, as board members, should be ashamed of yourselves for failing the passengers, employees and this community. This lies on you as leaders.

You could hold Keolis accountable for transit services but you fail to do so — no liquidated damages and now allowing them to operate with less service for the same pay, (a) government-funded attempt at union busting. You, the elected leaders appointed to the board, need to start leading.

(RTC Executive Director) Bill Thomas and (Director of Public Transportation & Operations) Mark Maloney answer to you, not vice-versa. Hold them accountable.

Continued free passes for your contractor will continue to contribute to your failing transit system. You could fix this problem with a strike of a pen.

Listen to the workers.

They know the truth.

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Union No.533
__________

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R), Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R) [3] and Bob Lucey (R); Reno City Councilmembers Oscar Delgado (D) and Neoma Jardon, (R), board chair. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>

 

Eternal reruns of toxic movies and PR spin
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from Sparks Tribune 8-18-2021

BREAKING NEWS 8-16-2021 5:00 pm PDT / 00:00 8-17 (midnight) GMT

MEDIA ADVISORY

8-16-2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

Keolis Transit refuses to meet with union


RENO, Nev, (8-16-2021) — "Foreign-owned Keolis Transit has refused to bargain with Teamsters Local 533 on Thursday, August 19, despite having announced their availability this Thursday," union president Gary Watson announced today.

The union is considering all options.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.

See NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including 2002 Hot August Strike 1.0 and 2021 Hot August Strike 2.0.

BULLETIN TO UNION MEMBERS

Mon, 16 Aug 2021 17:36:13 -0700 (PDT) / 00:36:13 GMT 8-17-2021
From: Gary Watson <gary@teamsters533.org>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2021 17:36:10 -0700
Subject: Keolis refused to meet with Teamsters 533 on August 19, 2021

Brothers and Sisters,

Please see the attached Keolis document they provided to all media outlets on Thursday, August 12, 2021, along with emailing this to your inboxes. Keolis claimed to the media they were available on all these dates. When Teamsters Local 533 offered to meet on Thursday, August 19, 2021, Keolis suddenly became unavailable, even though this states otherwise. It is unfortunate this company cannot do business without being untruthful to the membership, passengers, public and politicians . Keolis has no accountability, AND even after a 10-day strike Keolis continues to answer to no one.

Keolis’ refusal was today.

Stay alert, stay strong and stay united.

 

UPDATE: BEWARE OF FOR-PROFIT FALSE PROPHETS

RENO, Nev., USA (8:28 p.m. PDT 8-13-2021 / 03:28 GMT 8-14-2021) — Local bus underboss Michael Moreno put out some spin that a few media greenhorns gulped down whole: "Formal negotiations will resume with the participation of a federal mediator, and the union has agreed not to stop work while negotiations continue with this third-party participation."

One inexperienced reporter even rewrote it this way: "RTC representatives confirmed that union officials signed a memorandum of understanding to maintain the health care benefits at issue and to not strike again in the near future." Huh?

As the great Chico Marx, impersonating his brother Groucho, immortally stated in the classic comedy "Duck Soup" (1933): "Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

Believe your own eyes. Read the actual short document. Here's the only reference to what could become Hot August Strike 3.0: "The parties agree to meet to reach a successor agreement and to meet with FMCS (Federal Meeting and Conciliation Service) to mediate before striking or lockouts."

The union has not agreed not to strike. Why would anyone surrender their greatest advantage? Would the Tampa Bay Bucs sit Tom Brady to make the other team feel better?

Alas, we live in a short attention span era where alternative facts are given equal weight with reality because most people aren't paying attention anyway. And that includes journalists.

Be well. Raise hell. Stay cool. Stay safe. And don't breathe Nevada air unless absolutely necessary.

AB

 

BREAKING NEWS 8-12-2021 11:00 pm PDT —
Teamsters win on health care, end Reno-Sparks transit strike

 

8-12-2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

See NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including 2002 Hot August Strike 1.0

Agreement on health care ends transit strike
Teamsters and contractor return to negotiation

RENO, Nev, (11:00 p.m. PDT 8-12-2021) — Teamsters Local 533 president Gary Watson tonight announced that the union has reached a tentative agreement with Keolis Transit on healthcare.

The parties will schedule future dates to bargain the rest of open contract articles as they work toward finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement.

"The Union looks forward to Keolis meeting us at the bargaining table with good intentions and bargaining in good faith moving forward. We are glad our members are getting back to work doing what they do best, servicing the transit passengers in the Reno, Sparks and Washoe County region," the longtime labor leader stated.

Workers who had been on strike since noon on August 3 have until Saturday to return to work. Any workers who so desire may report for work Friday and allowed to service any available route.

Access NevadaLabor.com for complete background on all relevant issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 walkout. The signed three-page health care agreement will be available at the website.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.


CWA 9413/AFL-CIO
Y8/12 Deal/HotAugustStrike/Keolis19/ibt533/U-News/opsn21


-30-

 

NNCLC President's statement


Although discouraged by Mr. Ake's puzzling and errant remarks regarding the strike, we are encouraged that the Keolis corporate CEO finally signed the Tentative
Agreement to continue the represented employees' health care plan.

We view this as a small but positive step towards the good faith bargaining that Keolis will need to exhibit at the negotiating table since they chose to start so late in
the fiscal year.

The members of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, Nevada State AFL-CIO and our community will be watching very closely.

Mike Pilcher, President
Northern Nevada Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO
Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Board

 



WAS THIS THE LAST STRAW?

12 August 2021 — Teamsters Local 856 Leaflets San Francisco French Consulate in Support of Teamsters Local 533 Strike Against Keolis Transit

On behalf of the Teamsters Local 533 membership (Reno, Nev.) who are on strike against RTC Washoe bus contractor Keolis Transit (70% owned by the French government), Teamsters 533 officers extended their appreciation to the leadership and members of Teamsters Local 856 (San Bruno, Calif.) for their support today.

This morning, Teamsters Local 856 started leafletting the San Francisco French Consulate in support of their brothers and sisters in Reno who are fighting to maintain their good Teamster healthcare during this global pandemic. Printed in English and French, the flyers featured 10 year-old Logan Lansborough.

C'est la vie, c'est la guerre!

 

Get on your hiking boots and pick up a picket
Featuring Logan Lansborough / Hot August Strike poster child
BARBWIRE BY ANDREW BARBANO / Expanded from the 8-11-2021 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Keolis throws one final hissy fit before caving to the union
By Jeri Chadwell / ThisIsReno.com / 8-12-2021

Keolis bosses grilled by lawmakers for last winter's massive Boston commuter rail outages during blizzard
Keolis admits breaking contractual obligation to provide service (just like Reno)
Officials and union leader call for ousting Keolis and going in-house.

Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, HERE — for the last 30+ years or so.
By Sharman Sacchetti / Fox News 25 / Boston, Mass. / 4-4-2021


SOFTSHOE FASCISM IN RENO-SPARKS-WASHOE

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 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.

"They’re trying to take us away from the building — saying we can’t sit under the shade structures, saying we can’t 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 have refused to enforce federal, state or local social distancing and mask mandates, turning the local mass transit system into a superspreader. They 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.

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
CesarChavezNevada.com
NevadaLabor.com
Barbwire.US

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO
Y8/11 Fascisteca/hotauguststrike/keolis-19/rtc/ibt533/unews/opsn21

Reno police called on striking bus drivers
By Jeri Chadwell / ThisIsReno.com 8-10-2021

Letter from Teamsters Counsel to Regional Transportation Commission Exec. Director Bill Thomas (.pdf)
Letter from Teamsters Counsel to Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve & City Attorney Karl Hall
(.pdf)
RTC Guidelines for Public Forum
(.pdf)


BARBWIRE CONFIDENTIAL—>HushHush!
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Special web EXTRA 8-4-2021

 

Coalition of community organizations join Teamsters picket lines
By Ben Margiott / KRNV TV-4/KRXI TV-11 / 8-10-2021

Community organizations join Teamsters picket lines on 8th day of strike
By Jeri Chadwell / ThisIsReno.com 8-10-2021

8-5-2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

CHRIS FUQUA, Vice-President
(775) 348-6060 ext. 103
Monitor NevadaLabor.com for references and history, including 2002 Hot August Strike 1.0

Transit bosses illegally cut service to seniors and disabled
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

RENO, Nev, (8-5-2021) — The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) has illegally taken transit services away from disabled citizens to replace striking RTCRide drivers.

"RTC has instructed MTM Transit to take over several Keolis fixed routes and assign drivers to cover a special route along Virginia Street for Hot August Nights as well as numerous other routes in Reno and Sparks," stated Teamsters Local 533 Vice-President Chris Fuqua.

"Their actions not only violate contracts, they break the law while abusing the public trust," Fuqua said.

France-based Keolis Transit is the for-profit contractor for the union-struck RTCRide mass transit system. MTM Transit runs the much smaller RTC Access for senior citizens and RTC FlexRide for the disabled.

"Their actions are illegal under federal bidding and procurement laws," Fuqua added.

"As always, the weakest of the weak are made to suffer for the sake of tourism," he observed.

"MTM shuttles have been running two to four hours late as well. They have cancelled numerous rides for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) passengers who rely on MTM Transit services to get them to medical appointments. MTM Transit is not doing the work RTC contracted them to do and is illegally assisting Keolis in strike-breaking," Fuqua asserted.

"MTM can charge however much money it wants after the fact because the cost has not been negotiated, a waste of public money," Fuqua wrote In a letter to local MTM Transit General Manager Geo Jackson and RTC Washoe Executive Director Bill Thomas <bthomas@rtcwashoe.com>.

"The RTC-MTM arrangement to perform struck work does not even remotely comply with federal law," Fuqua asserted.

"They made the deal in secret and MTM does not have the employees necessary to run a fixed route system," he stated.

"RTC and MTM should immediately stop performing this work and do everything in their power to rein in their French renegade," Fuqua concluded.

Almost 200 Teamsters 533 members and support staff stopped work at 12 noon on Tuesday, August 3. Negotiations on July 26 proved fruitless with Keolis Transit insisting that employees be moved out of the Teamsters heath insurance plan.

For more than a year, the union has decried Keolis' refusal to enforce COVID-19 mask mandates while the five elected RTC board members and RTC staff have stood silent.

Monitor NevadaLabor.com for updates, links, references, video, photos, complete background on all the issues and Teamsters/RTC history, including the 1999 near-strike and the 2002 walkout.

Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Union Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis employees.


CWA 9413/AFL-CIO
Y8/5 MTM Ratz2/Hot August Strike/keolis/ibt/UNews/opsn21


-30-

 

ONLY THREE BUS ROUTES RUNNING ON THIRD DAY OF STRIKE
ThisIsReno / August 5, 2021

BARBWIRE CONFIDENTIAL—>HushHush!
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Special web EXTRA 8-4-2021


Disinformation campaign kicks into high gear

 

UPDATE 10:00 p.m. PDT 8-3-2021 — KOLO TV-8 news aired a statement from RTC stating they are not party to the issue and are barred legally from doing anything. They ended with a plea to return to the bargaining table. Typical RTC bureaucracy, the system operating as designed. (See below.)

 

 

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2021 19:23:23 -0700
To: bforrest@mynews4.com (Brett Forrest)
From: Andrew Barbano <barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us>
Subject: Keolis Zoom stonewalling

Brett Forrest, KRNVTV-4 / KRXI TV-11
(775) 785-1210 ext. 6214

Dear Mr. Forrest:

Thanks for your time earlier this afternoon.

As I mentioned, your colleague Jenée Ryan's followup to Ben Margiott's main story was entirely a company statement blaming the union for delaying bargaining.

In fact, starting in summer 2020, Keolis not only threatened a federal arbitrator but refused to do any negotiation that was not face-to-face — long before vaccines were available.

Nothing like trying to kill off the opposition. Even if their own lawyers got sick, Keolis could always find more lawyers.

If you go to this page at the Teamsters Local 533 website, you will find several documents pertinent to recent negotiations.
http://teamsters533.org/?zone=/unionactive/view_page.cfm&page=The20Truth20About20Keolis20Transit

Scroll down the top window and you will see how Keolis fought Zoom meetings to a point that it had to be litigated as recently as January 2021.

Federal arbitrator James G. Merrill ruled in the union's favor regarding Zoom sessions on January 21, 2021. Alas and alack, they never happened.

When Keolis finally sat down with the union on July 26, they tried to call the Teamsters' bluff. We weren't bluffing.

You will also find lack of COVID-19 safety noted in Merrill's decision.

Since RTC was established in 1982, their three-tiered structure has been engineered for buck-passing of accountability.

You have five commissioners — warned not to talk to the union or media — on top of a very top-heavy staff on top of a for-profit, foreign-owned contractor. Nothing is ever anybody's fault and when in doubt, blame the workers and their union. (I've been doing this since the 1980s.)

You may access the NevadaLabor.com archive going back to Hot August Strike 1.0 in 2002 and beyond hereat.

Please call me or union president Gary Watson with any questions.

Be well. Raise hell. Stay cool. Stay safe.

Andrew Barbano, Editor/Publisher
CesarChavezNevada.com
NevadaLabor.com
Barbwire.US
(775) 747-0544

ec: Debbie Calkins, Local 533 CEO
Ben Margiott, Joe Hart, Jenée Ryan
Gary Watson


CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

-30-

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gary Watson, President
Teamsters Union Local 533

August 3, 2021

News From Teamsters Local 533
1190 Selmi Drive, Suite 100
Reno, Nevada 89512
Affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Media Contacts
Debbie Calkins
Gary Watson
775-348-6060, Ext. 101

Reno, Nev. —After more than a year of unresolved unfair labor practice charges, bad faith bargaining, contract violations and refusal to arbitrate disputes, Regional Transportation Commission Washoe bus system employees and Teamsters Local 533 members have begun striking to hold RTC's for-profit operator, Keolis Corporation, accountable for their employee mistreatment.

"We've spent over a year encouraging the contractor for RTC bus system, Keolis Corporation, to act as a fair employer and community investor, without success," said Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson.

"Keolis answers to no one. We encourage the community to stand with us in holding them accountable and join the protest against these unfair and unreliable conditions.

"At the latest bargaining session last week, Keolis made a proposal to eliminate Teamsters Health insurance with 60 days' notice. We told Keolis the proposal is a poison pill and violates the Health and Welfare Trust Agreement. Keolis refuses to withdraw this language," Watson stated.

The employees and Teamsters Local 533 members will conduct a picket line strike, protesting a litany of unfair labor practices that are crippling the RTC bus system. A strike sanction for Teamsters 533 was passed unanimously by Teamsters Joint Council 7 and the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council last month.

Debbie Calkins
Secretary-Treasurer & Principal Officer
She is the first woman to head the union.

Keolis Corporation also put RTC employees and Teamsters Local 533 members in direct danger by refusing to implement local, state, and federal mask and social distancing COVID-19 requirements and ordering drivers not to enforce these measures under threat of firing.

After violating the safety measures, they also refused to give the union information on the dozens of employees who contracted COVID-19, at least two of whom were admitted to intensive care. Keolis Corporation also employed fewer drivers, cut overtime and ignored safety measures to enhance their profits.

This disgraceful mismanagement has left riders stranded, confused and upset. As a result, drivers bear the brunt of Keolis' failures, facing harassment and abuse from angry passengers.

Last year, the Keolis Corporation received over $15 million in government support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, despite the public transit system already receiving 90 percent of its funding with state and federal taxes — dollars that have empowered Keolis to abuse and neglect its workforce. The RTC is also expected to receive $19 million allocated in the American Rescue Plan, though it is not yet clear if those funds have been received.

"The coach operators, technicians, road supervisors, utility workers and dispatchers who risked their lives during the pandemic deserve better and cannot take the mismanagement by Keolis any longer," Watson said.

"They are not to blame for Keolis Corporation's failures, and we will not tolerate Keolis' do-nothing approach any longer."

Teamsters Local 533 KEOLIS-19 War Room Archive Jan. 2020 thru July 2021

7-22-2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
GARY WATSON, President
Teamsters Union Local 533
(775) 348-6060 ext. 104

BUS BOSSES PUSH PR, IGNORE SAFETY
Not hiring enough drivers? Blame the drivers, of course.
Enriching a foreign corporation at taxpayer expense
Bus boss pay raise not granted

RENO, NV (7-22-2021) — "I can't wait to get the RTCRide transit system profiteers face to face next Monday to demand that they reveal where they spent federal millions while ignoring COVID-19 safety, failed to hire enough drivers and allowed route cancellations to spread like a virus," Teamsters Union Local 533 President Gary Watson said on Thursday.
The union's contract with for-profit Keolis Transit expired on June 30. Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Monday, July 26.
"Keolis has since done a good job of making the wheels come off this community's very necessary bus system," Watson added.
"They have refused to enforce federal, state and local Coronavirus safety mandates and threaten to fire drivers who try to do so," he added. (Smoking gun documentation at NevadaLabor.com/)
"As of Thursday afternoon, 15 routes are down and passengers are sweating in the sun waiting for a bus that never comes," Watson stated.
"Keolis of course blames its depleted corps of existing drivers who have been infected with COVID-19 en masse largely thanks to company-enforced safety lapses," Watson asserted.
"Two of our drivers have ended up in ICU so far and dozens of others have been hospitalized. Keolis gets paid millions for running a superspreader system that carries upwards of 20,000 passengers a day," Watson said.
"I was angered but not surprised by today's Keolis press release which fails to even mention the word 'COVID,' yet boasts of 95 percent of routes in operation," Watson said.
"The Titanic was in 100 percent operation when it hit that minor obstruction," Watson quipped.
"Not enough lifeboats. Not enough drivers. Failure at the top. Sink to the bottom. People die," Watson illustrated.
"Our transit system often serves the least among us: the infirm, the disabled, the ill, the young, the elderly, the poor and homeless, low-wage workers, minorities, people who need to get to medical appointments. For days on end, countless numbers have waited in the sun for a bus that did not come," Watson said.
"Many of those passengers do not have computers or cell phones to check the Regional Transportation Commission website for what's running and what's run-out. Europe-based Keolis should face serious financial penalties but RTC management has taken them off the hook, so they do little or nothing, which is much more profitable," Watson said.
"Without penalties, Keolis is in no hurry and faces no punishment for failing to hire additional drivers, but they are free to blame the union," Watson stated.
"Employing fewer drivers, cutting overtime and ignoring safety just enhances their profits."
Section 302-B of RTC's 10-year contract with Keolis Transit calls for liquidated (cash) damages to be imposed at $1000.00 per occurrence of a "missed trip." Keolis is also liable for $1,000,00 a day for not filling its general manager position within 30 days of vacancy. (Section 201-B)
"Unfortunately, RTC Executive Director Bill Thomas <bthomas@rtcwashoe.com> recently informed me that he waived all penalties 16 months ago," Watson said, "so Keolis has no incentive to fulfill its obligations. Meanwhile, people bake in record heat while Keolis basks in millions of RTC federal relief funds while not spending enough on local safety to provide suntan lotion.
"Mr. Thomas torches the system by allowing Keolis to leave open over 30 driver vacancies and permitting them to propose a bus operator schedule that adds 20,000 car trips per year to Washoe County traffic.
"Adding insult to injury, he has facilitated a collective bargaining proposal intended to provoke strikes. It imposes below-inflation wage 'hikes' and would turn employees into part-timers without health insurance – while Thomas has been making $220,000 a year," Watson stated.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of 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. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>
Faced with vocally critical employees, community activists and passengers, the commission last Friday tabled a recommended bonus and increase of Mr. Thomas' $220,000 annual compensation package.
Addressing the commission, veteran Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus said "I’ve focused upon local public policy in this community for 22 years and this is the most conflict-ridden labor situation that I have observed. I really don’t understand how it has come to be. At the City of Reno, we have good labor relations with those who provide essential public services," Brekhus said.
"I just cannot understand how the coach operators who are on the front line as essential workers during this pandemic are at the break point of a strike. I also want to let you know that prior to coming to Council on 2012, this board appointed me to the Transit Advisory Board where I served for about three years," the recently re-elected councilmember added.
Chartered in 1934, Teamsters Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in various trades throughout northern Nevada and eastern California, including about 200 RTC/Keolis workers.

UPDDATE: Us vs. Them
ThisIsReno.com 7-22 & 23, 2021


CWA 9413/AFL-CIO
Y7/22 SpinCity/strike833841/keolis/ibt/unews/opsn21


-30-

Read it for yourself

Here's a verbatim order from Keolis Operations Manager Taquan Jackson: "Effective 12:00AM (midnight), February 2, 2021 there will be a federal mandate for masks to be worn on public transportation. This is a requirement the local team and RTC have been encouraging and adhering to for some time now. Although the mandate was (sic) been escalated our operators are not to enforce this policy whatsoever."

THE AWFUL TRUTH

Mr. Jackson expects his employees to be acrobats, adhering while ignoring.

This is nothing new. His predecessor Abul Hassan ordered this on June 26, 2020: "We are not to deny ridership for not having a mask, do not refuse riders."

A driver can refuse to board a pantsless passenger but not a maskless one. (That sitcom scenario actually happened last year.)

The transit system's bedrock customers are the least among us: The elderly, the very young, minorities, the disabled, homeless and those of low income who cannot afford autos or don't drive.

Some employees are allowed to work sick. Health, safety and COVID-19 test results have been withheld in violation of the union contract. Why won't RTC let the union know how many safety complaints come in from passengers?

Last year, RTC received $26.2 million in federal relief funds.

RTC Washoe provided billing from Keolis which showed they spent only $338,000 on COVID-19 safety.

RTC further informed the union that Keolis swept much of the rest directly to corporate profit.

On August 17, 2021, a National Labor Relations Board judge will review why Keolis refuses to disclose how many union members contracted COVID-19, among other union-busting charges.

Please contact your five RTC commissioners and advocate for endangered passengers and workers.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of 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. RTC board e-mail <rtcpubliccomments@rtcwashoe.com>

CWA 9413/AFL-CIO

2002 RTC Transit Strike Archive

 

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