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Taxi drivers strike enters second day with no reports of disruptions

The taxi drivers strike against Yellow Checker Star Transportation entered its second day Monday with no reports of service disruptions amid a relatively light week for conventions.

Nevertheless, the Nevada Taxicab Authority issued 20 new temporary operating permits, called medallions, to each of the 13 taxi brands not facing a work stoppage.

The medallions could put as many as 260 cabs on the street, more than a typical day if Yellow Checker Star’s numbers on how many drivers came to work are correct.

According to a state government release, Nevada Taxicab Authority administrator Charles Harvey made the call “even though no disruptions in service has been reported to date.”

The move was described as “a pre-emptive measure,” but the release did not detail how the number was calculated.

At midday Monday, the taxi stand at McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 1 had more cabs than people in line.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Jeremy Handel said the marketing agency had received no reports of problems stemming from sparse service.

“Quite frankly, there is minimal impact on the community at the moment,” said Paul Bohelski, senior international representative for the Office and Professional Employees International Union. “We are looking to have maximum impact on the company.”

Bohelski’s union is the parent of the Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union Local 4873, which represents about 1,300 of the 1,700 Yellow Checker Star drivers. With 603 permanent medallions, the company has the second-largest fleet in Las Vegas.

Company Chief Operating Officer Bill Shranko said the company was able to fill about two-thirds of its cars Monday, although about 250 striking drivers lined the sidewalks at the entrance to Yellow Checker Star’s main yard. This would mean that the company was down about 200, or less than the number of temporary strike medallions.

By the union’s count, fewer than 100 cabs had left the yard by early afternoon.

To further pressure the company to return to bargaining, the union started a flying picket. Bohelski said a team of about 30 striking drivers tracks Yellow Checker Star cabs as they pull into the lines at Strip resorts. As long as the cab is on the property, the drivers can legally picket.

On Sunday, he said, this meant stops at the MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas and Caesars Palace.

“We have no dispute with the hotels, just YCS,” Bohelski said.

A major sticking point between the two sides is the basic pay scale. The current revenue-sharing system starts drivers at 39 percent of the total fares collected during a shift, rising to 43.5 percent after 10 years. Union member Shem Mojo said the drivers had proposed a range of 43 percent to 49 percent.

Other disputes involve splitting revenues generated by a fuel surcharge and credit card fees, income now retained by the company.

At other local taxi companies, Shranko said, drivers pay for their own gasoline, so they do better at Yellow Checker Star because the company covers all fuel bills. But the drivers see paychecks smaller than they believe they have earned.

Paramedics went to the picket at midafternoon to treat Daniel Legesse after he was hit in the face by pepper spray, allegedly coming from a nonstriking driver leaving the company lot.

Another driver, James Shaffner, carried a picket sign stained with a red liquid that he said was meant for him.

“I had to protect my six-time champion Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt,” he said.

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

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