Extra taxis authorized as Las Vegas prepares for cabbie strikes
The Nevada Taxicab Authority on Tuesday approved a new measure to head off the detrimental effects of simultaneous driver strikes against Clark County’s two largest cab company groups and authorized additional cabs for three big-turnout events on the Las Vegas calendar.
The authority board voted unanimously to allow cab companies to operate up to 30 additional vehicles if drivers represented by the Industrial Technical Professional Employees union go on strike against Yellow-Checker-Star and drivers represented by the United Steelworkers union strike the Frias Transportation Group.
Both unions are in contract negotiations with their respective companies and union drivers for both companies have authorized their leadership to call a strike if a settlement isn’t reached. YCS drivers have been working on an extended contract since Oct. 31, and Frias drivers have been on an extension since Sept. 11.
Negotiating teams from YCS and the ITPE union are scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday with the extended contract ending at midnight Saturday, the day before the National Finals Rodeo ends in Las Vegas.
Representatives of the United Steelworkers did not return phone calls regarding the status of their talks.
It’s the second time the Taxicab Authority has prepared for the possibility of a strike. On Oct. 31, the board conducted an emergency meeting to authorize additional cabs. The order approved in that meeting expired at the end of November.
YCS and Frias are the two largest taxi groups in Clark County with licenses representing the equivalent of 55 percent of cabs operating in the county.
“The threat of a work stoppage is still out there,” Assistant Attorney General Ryan Songa told the authority board.
Under the order approved by the board, cab companies not affected by a strike would be allowed to add up to 30 cabs and Authority Administrator Charles Harvey would be empowered to reduce the number of cabs after evaluating the effects of a strike. The order would be in effect until the next time the authority board meets.
Because Nevada is a right-to-work state, drivers could cross picket lines making it difficult for regulators to estimate how many cabs it would need to adequately serve the public.
Harvey fears a cab driver strike could become a national story and affect the reputation of the city’s convention and meetings industry.
A strike also could be costly to meeting organizers. A representative of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority told the board that organizers of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which operates a large car equipment trade show in Las Vegs in late October and early November, paid to have shuttle buses available to transport conventioneers between the Las Vegas Convention Center and their hotels. He gave no estimate of the cost.
Three huge events are on the city calendar in the next five weeks and the authority board approved extra cabs for those events — a move they would have made regardless of the status of labor negotiations.
The board approved the addition of six to 17 cabs for companies in the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve celebration; 17 extra cabs during the International Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 7-10; and an additional four to eight cabs per company on days when the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show (SHOT Show) at the Sands Exposition Center and Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock run simultaneously Jan. 16-17.
The LVCVA is estimating that up to 300,000 people will be in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve because the way the holiday falls on the calendar will create a four-day weekend this year. Pre-registration figures show CES is on pace to equal or exceed last year’s 155,000 attendance. The SHOT Show is expected to draw 61,000 people next year and the Adult Entertainment Expo, 30,000. Show dates overlap with the SHOT Show running Jan. 15-18 and the Adult Expo, Jan. 17-19.
As in past years, the Las Vegas Strip will be closed to vehicle traffic on New Year’s Eve and free bus service will be diverted to Koval Lane and Dean Martin Drive.