SPARKS - A contract provision to fully observe the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday has again been rejected by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County in contract talks with Teamsters Union Local 533.
The Reno-Sparks NAACP has passed a resolution asking that RTC honor the King Holiday like the six others recognized every year.
"The Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday has for years been the only holiday treated as a weekday with all buses running," the resolution states.
"This policy not only deprives many employees from celebrating King Day with their families but also costs the system money by running full service despite lower holiday passenger loads," the document asserts, adding that "the system has recently had to substantially increase rates."
The resolution further notes that "RTC's Access (formerly CitiLift) system treats the King Holiday as a full holiday." The Access program serves senior citizens and disabled individuals and is operated by a separate management company.
The RTC Ride bus system is managed by Transit Management of Washoe, Inc., a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based First Transit, which is owned by FirstGroup of Great Britain.
"Treating the King Holiday in a separate manner from the other six holidays seems questionable management at best and raises serious ethical questions at worst," the NAACP resolution asserts, and asks that "the King Holiday be treated like all six others and that this policy be reflected in the Regional Transportation System's collective bargaining agreement(s) with its workers."
The resolution was unanimously passed by the NAACP membership at its general meeting of May 1. The full text may be viewed at renosparksnaacp.org
Negotiations are underway on a new three-year contract between the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County and its workers represented by the Teamsters. Talks are being held today at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks.
The current agreement expires in June. The union struck the bus system for the first time ever in 2002. The King Holiday provision has been rejected by RTC several times over the years.
Teamsters Local 533 represents about 2,200 workers in a variety of businesses and government agencies throughout the region.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is comprised of five elected officials: Reno City Council members David Aiazzi and Dwight Dortch; Sparks Council member John Mayer and Washoe County Commissioners Bob Larkin and David Humke.