Cabbies to vote on second proposed pact

Drivers for the city’s second-largest cab company will vote Sunday and Monday on the second contract proposal in three months, although even union officials acknowledge a tepid initial reaction.

The latest pact with Yellow Checker Star Transportation, finalized Wednesday with a federal mediator’s help, contains improvements in compensation, annual bonuses, days permitted for a leave of absence and driver liability compared to the one in November that was voted down overwhelmingly. The company also would pay a one-time bonus of $600,000 upon approval, about $350 for each of the 1,740 drivers.

However, meetings to explain the terms conducted on Thursday by the Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union generated only a muted response from drivers.

“They are not exuberant about it,” union senior international representative Paul Bohelski said. “They were hoping to get a bigger share of the meter and credit card fees. I’m cautiously optimistic that the drivers will accept it, but the bottom line is that they expected more and we understand that.”

Drivers at Yellow Checker start by receiving 39 percent of the fares they collect while on duty, minus certain expenses, and peak after five years at 43 percent. The contract would advance the first raise to 41 percent after 12 months’ employment instead of 18 months. The $3 fee that passengers pay to use credit cards isn’t counted as part of the fare.

Union leaders endorsed the November proposal, but have taken a neutral stance this time.

Yellow Checker Star management could not be reached for comment. But after the November vote, the company said it had offered “the most generous contract proposal in the taxi business.”

If this proposal is rejected, Bohelski said the drivers would seek a strike authorization from the union’s head office once the current contract extension expires Jan. 31.

“If we go out, we could be out for a long time,” Bohelski said.

However, the effect would be hard to gauge. About 400 of the drivers do not belong to the union and Bohelski acknowledged that some union drivers would report to work. Bohelski said the union would concentrate on improving the voter turnout to strengthen the mandate.

The union said the November proposal was rejected by about 80 percent of the voters, but did not reveal the actual numbers. The company said only one-third of the all drivers voted.

Yellow Checker Star has one-fourth of the 2,409 medallions issued for Las Vegas by the Nevada Taxicab Authority. For several months since the possibility arose that both Yellow Checker Star and Frias Transportation Management could face strikes, the authority has authorized as many as 30 extra medallions for each company to try to fill any service gaps for locals and visitors. Medallions act as operating permits that must be carried on each cab carrying paid passengers.

Frias, Las Vegas’ largest cab company, has 710 medallions and Yellow Checker Star has 603. Combined, they operated more than half of the city’s cabs.

There have been no updates on the status of the Frias contract talks.

In general, said Bohelski, “We have good relations with (Yellow Checker Star). We just disagree on economics.”

The proposed contract, that he said “got everything we are going to get at the bargaining table,” included provisions that:

■ Absolve drivers of any damage liabilities instead of the current $1,000 cap

■ Increase the annual bonus from $310,000 to as much as $380,000;

■ Boost the unpaid leave allowance from 30 to 35 days;

■ Defer until January 2014 a new requirement that drivers must have six years on the job to get a four-day week if they take 12-hour shifts.

The four-day week is now an option for everyone, but the company wants to require a five-day week for drivers with fewer than six years of service.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at or 702-387-5290.

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