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Nevada State AFL-CIO Supports Teamsters 533 in Third Strike Against Keolis Transit

Shelbie Swartz
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Las Vegas, Nev. — Today, at 11 a.m., Teamsters Local 533, an affiliate of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, begins its third strike against Keolis Corporation, the for-profit operator of RTC Washoe. The strike comes on the heels of a “no” vote from Teamsters 533 members on an underwhelming contract offer from Keolis that didn’t meet the needs of the employees, the community, or the future of the regional public transit sector. 

“Today, the brave men and women of Teamsters 533 once again head to the picket line in their fight to secure basic respect and protections on the job. Keolis Transit once again has failed to commit to treating our brothers and sisters with dignity, and we stand firmly behind Teamsters 533 in this third strike,” Susie Martinez, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO said. “Keolis Transit continues to treat its workers with a flagrant disregard for their wellbeing and it is clear that the corporation is unfit to carry out the needs of the public transit system without relying on worker abuse. We implore RTC Washoe to end its contract with the corporation if they continue to disrespect our brothers and sisters who keep Northern Nevada moving every day.”

“Keolis Transit answers to no one. The RTC Washoe and the elected officials have once again failed the passengers, workers, and the public,” said Gary Watson, President of Teamsters 533. “Our region deserves better stewardship of our public transportation. Paying a contractor more than $20 million per year to dismantle our public transit is a bad investment. Shame on RTC Washoe!” 

“Our brothers and sisters of Teamsters Local 533 are once again standing tall on the picket line to protect the future of public transit in Washoe County, and we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them! By declining a $1,000 signing bonus, our essential transit workers have again put the future of public transit ahead of themselves,” said Mike Pilcher, President of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council. “I am calling on RTC Washoe to reconsider its contract with Keolis Transit—three strikes and they should be out. A brighter future for our community and union transportation workers in Northern Nevada depends on it. We will not give up in this fight alongside Teamsters 533.”

This marks the third time that Keolis Transit failed to negotiate with Teamsters 533 in good faith and forced the members of the union to head to the picket line rather than offer to treat workers with dignity and respect. The members of Teamsters 533 were on strike in August for more than a week, and for more than three weeks in September and October before Keolis agreed to enter negotiations.

These strikes came on the heels of numerous transgressions against workers committed by Keolis, including:

  • failing to pay more than $50,000 in 2019 worker health insurance premiums; 

  • paying strikebreakers; 

  • 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;

  • refusing to provide information on the dozens of employees who contracted COVID-19, at least two of whom were admitted to intensive care.