Las Vegas taxi drivers reject contract, consider authorizing strike
3 December 2012
Union drivers for the Yellow, Checker and Star taxi companies have rejected a contract endorsed by the union’s bargaining committee and now will consider authorizing leaders to call a strike.
Yellow-Checker-Star, the second-largest taxi company group in Southern Nevada, has been in talks with the Industrial Technical Professional Employees union since its contract expired at the end of October.
Last month, it announced that a tentative agreement had been reached on a new contract, and officials expressed confidence the contract would be ratified by the rank and file.
But in a vote that concluded Friday, union members overwhelmingly rejected the contract. Sam Moffitt, chief shop steward for YCS and a leader of ITPE Local 4873, said more than half of the union’s membership of more than 1,200 voted, with 80 percent rejecting the deal.
A representative of the taxi group said management “was stunned by the results.”
YCS management issued a statement over the weekend speculating that a low turnout, which it estimated at 35 percent of those eligible, resulted in the contract vote failing.
Moffitt said pay and shift policies resulted in the rejection of the contract. Despite increasing meter revenue for the company, most drivers barely make minimum wage and drivers have had to appeal to government regulators to receive the hourly minimum wage, he said.
Drivers also oppose a policy change that would require them to be employed six years before they can get a four-day workweek, Moffitt said. Most drivers work 12-hour shifts four or five days a week.
The ITPE leadership said it has proposed returning to contract talks Dec. 11-15, and Moffitt said the union is awaiting a response from management.
A representative of the company wouldn’t comment on the status of returning to the bargaining table.
In the meantime, members have been asked to vote to authorize union leadership to call for job actions, including a possible strike. Voting begins Tuesday and will end at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Another union, United Steelworkers Local 711-A, has been in contract talks with Frias Transportation Management, the largest taxi company group, since Sept. 11. Those talks have been complicated by internal squabbles within the union.
Proposed changes in the seniority policy and how drivers are allowed to choose their shifts are at issue in talks between the Steelworkers and Frias management.
Fearing the prospect of the two largest cab operators facing strikes, the Nevada Taxicab Authority voted in an emergency meeting in late October to allow other companies to operate more cabs in the event of strikes at YCS and Frias.
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