Federal officials call parties in taxi strike back to bargaining table

Both sides have been called back to the bargaining table in the third day of the drivers strike against Las Vegas’ second-largest taxi company.

The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service called for talks to start at 10 a.m. today at the agency’s downtown office. The service has the authority to convene management and labor to try to end a walkout but not impose a deal.

“The only way things get settled is if people talk,” said Paul Bohelski, the senior international representative for the Office and Professional Employees International Union. “We’ll go and see if there is any movement.”

The union is the parent of the Industrial Technical & Professional Employees Union Local 4873, which represents about 1,300 of the 1,700 drivers employed by Yellow-Checker-Star Transportation.

Company Chief Operating Officer Bill Shranko could not be reached for comment on how management would approach the mediation.

Federal mediators helped forge a contract proposal that was submitted to the drivers in late January, only to be rejected by a 70 percent margin. After that, the company declared an impasse and unilaterally instituted the proposal’s terms on Feb. 3, leading to the strike, which started Sunday.

For the past month, Shranko has consistently ruled out further talks.

Both sides agree that the strike has had little or no effect on the visitor industry. According to McCarran International Airport statistics, the number of cabs picking up passengers early this week has run ahead of the same days last year.

Union officials have laid out their strategy as not trying to cripple the local economy but to starve Yellow-Checker-Star of revenues to pressure it into contract concessions. Yellow-Checker-Star holds 603 operating permits, known as medallions, one-fourth of the total for Las Vegas, but the Nevada Taxicab Authority granted 260 temporary medallions on Monday — 20 each to the other 13 licensed cab brands — to try to cover any shortfalls in service.

The union and Yellow-Checker-Star have put out widely different numbers about how many cabs the company has put on the road during the strike.

Meanwhile, the union continued strike activities. Parent union President Michael Goodwin addressed a midday rally Tuesday and plans to do so again today.

Late Tuesday, drivers staged a demonstration at Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard, encouraging union drivers from other companies to join them.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at
toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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