Negotiations to end the RTC bus strike stall again

Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission bus.
Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission bus.(Regional Transportation Commission)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:36 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -The company managing public bus drivers for the Regional Transportation Commission charged Friday that the union negotiating the contract walked out on talks.

Keolis North America Regional Vice President Mike Ake said in a statement it is trying to bargain in good faith with Teamsters Local 533.

“We are concerned about the lack of respectful discussions and good faith bargaining consistently exhibited by the union leadership because it will not deliver a swift resolution for employees or riders,” Ake’s statement said. “To reach resolution, we need union leadership to resume good faith bargaining practices.”

Union President Gary Watson said Keolis has not responded to its effort to change the way bus driver jobs are scheduled. They have not accepted the offer or made a counter-offer.

“The Union has been more than willing to bargain with Keolis and we have offered compromise that shows in the tentative agreements we have reached,” Watson said. “That compromise has not been reciprocated by Keolis.”

The bus drivers went on strike Sept. 27 for the second time in two months. There was a 10-day strike during Hot August Nights. The second strike focused on workers have more control over their own schedules.

Keolis said this week it proposed policies around benefits for victims of domestic violence and for stronger employee protections against harassment, retaliation, and discrimination.  Keolis said it also proposed language to align the new contract with federal and state law regarding employee choice, military leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“Keolis once more implores leadership to return to conversations so we can reach a resolution,” Ake said.

Watson said the union made a counter proposal to Keolis Friday and Keolis had nothing to offer the union. The union asked again if Keolis had anything to offer on job scheduling and Keolis said no, Watson said.

“At that point, and after we presented our proposal, and Keolis refused to offer anything in return, we left,” Watson said. “What did they expect from us? A session of patty cake?”

Watson charged Keolis wanted to eliminate protection for union members on active military duty and other rights for leave.

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