Transit employees voice concerns about contract

As two multinational companies battle for the most lucrative public service contract in the nation, bus drivers and mechanics — the employees most likely to be affected by the outcome — are furious that their voices have not been heard.

Armed with a petition bearing signatures of 886 of 1,081 workers showing support for Veolia Transportation, employees claim the union president and treasurer have openly lobbied for rival First Transit and bashed Veolia without polling members or allowing them to vote on their preference.

"Why do they have their own agenda? Why aren’t they asking us? Where’s the union’s voice?" asked mechanic Shane Wunder.

A slight majority of drivers and mechanics who operate and keep the Regional Transportation Commission’s coaches running are not members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, but the labor organization’s board negotiates the collective bargaining agreement for all employees.

The Transportation Commission postponed its decision on who would secure a three-year contract that offers a pair of two-year extensions. The contract is worth about $80 million a year. The board held off on a vote to have a financial analyst study whether First Transit can provide the required services for its bid, which over seven years was $50 million less than Veolia.

Union treasurer Jeff Raske and president Jose Mendoza have spoken at commission meetings regarding the contract.

The employees who signed the petition and spoke about their frustrations were both union and nonunion workers. They acknowledged that they were partly anxious about any change, but said First Transit’s figures were suspicious. They said they can’t help but wonder whether there will be layoffs or cuts in pay and benefits, even though Jacob Snow, general manager for the Regional Transportation Commission, said the request for proposal says the new company cannot lower pay and benefits.

Linda Johnson-Sanders, a union member, said Veolia never asked employees to circulate a petition; it was the only manner in which drivers such as herself felt they could be heard.

"I felt like I was taking a chance," she said of placing her name on the paper. "But I wanted my voice to be heard."

VEOLIA PRAISED

Johnson-Sanders and Robert Doran, a mechanic, praised Veolia’s benefits and treatment of employees. Johnson-Sanders said she underwent major surgery recently and paid no money out of her own pocket. She also emphasized that even with the poor economy, Veolia has never laid off drivers.

Doran said both his parents died in 2009 and with only five days of personal time off, he expected to struggle to pay bills when he returned from a two-week trip home. Doran said he received a full paycheck with the understanding he could make up the time.

Wunder, who declined to become a union member because he did not believe the leadership represented its members well, said he and his fellow employees are concerned about the numbers included in the two transit companies’ bids.

First Transit lists its first-year labor costs as $43 million, Veolia’s figure is $45 million; First Transit’s sub­contracting budget is about $8 million, Veolia’s is about half that. Veolia budgeted $4 million more toward benefits and about $2 million toward vehicle parts. Veolia has a $4 million edge on the profit margin.

To employees who support Veolia, those numbers in the bid translate to outsourcing services, staff reductions and poorly maintained vehicles.

"How are they going to afford parts to fix buses unless they have some screaming deal?" Wunder said.

Gino Cunanan, also a mechanic, said when he questioned union representatives about why a vote had not been taken, he was told: "Not everything has to go to vote."

The employees’ contract with Veolia expired in December and union members question why their leaders are focused more on lobbying for First Transit than negotiating a new contract.

"We are now working with no contract," said driver Sandra Neale. "If he (Mendoza) was more for us, he’d have more people in the union."

CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS

Raske, the union treasurer, said the pair are only interested in which company will engage in good-faith bargaining.

"We don’t particularly have any objections to either Veolia or First Transit getting the contract as long as they abide by the contract we enter in," Raske said, adding that he and Mendoza were in negotiations with Veolia on Thursday.

Raske’s comment contradicts statements made in an April 12 memo to union members in which he said, "I will tell you that I personally want them (Veolia) gone." Raske went on to say, "Tell Veolia that as a Marine sniper in Vietnam I met a formidable enemy and survived. I WILL NOT be intimidated by anyone and you messed with the wrong guy." He signed off, "Semper Fi!"

Raske said his personal feelings do not spill over into his official duties as a representative of the union. "I’d rather see First Transit over Veolia, but my personal choice wouldn’t matter," he said.

Raske added that if union members wanted to vote on the matter, somebody could have requested to do so during a meeting. Nobody did, he said.

Valerie Michael, spokeswoman for Veolia, dismissed rumors that her company is spreading misinformation and forcing workers to sign the petition. She said employees have chosen on their own to speak up and circulate the petition.

"They did that themselves," she said. "I think it speaks volumes about where they want to be. It says it all."

Terry Murphy, a consultant for First Transit, said the huge discrepancy between bids is a result of First Transit being a very conservative company. She said the only layoffs planned are supervisory positions and only about five jobs are expected to be eliminated.

The only potential scenario that could adversely affect rank-and-file positions is if routes are eliminated, and that decision must come from the Regional Transportation Commission.

"We do not anticipate reducing the number of drivers, we do not intend to get rid of any people on the floor," she said.

The contract allows for 40 part-time positions and First Transit would probably allow fewer than that and the services subcontracted out would be along the same lines as Veolia’s policy. Benefits, she said, must be negotiated at the bargaining table.

Murphy said company officials are frustrated by the misinformation being provided to employees.

"We can’t have access to the job site, we don’t have access to their mailing list; there is nothing we can do," she said. "What they’re being told is one-sided."

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Alexa roots for Golden Knights to win Stanley Cup
Alexa, from Amazon's Echo smart speaker, is rooting for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup.
Defense attorneys wrap up closing arguments in David Copperfield civil trial
Defense attorneys wrapped up their closing arguments in David Copperfield civil trial at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. A British tourist is suing Copperfield, his company and others claiming he suffered a traumatic brain injury after participating in an illusion in which the magician appears to make 13 people vanish. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump talks about how to pronounce "Nevada"
At the United States Naval Academy Graduation and Commissioning on May 25, 2018, President Donald Trump discusses how to pronounce "Nevada."
Amazon's Alexa Recorded and Shared a Couple’s Conversation
Amazon's Alexa Recorded and Shared a Couple’s Conversation News station KIRO 7 reported a Portland couple’s conversation was recorded and sent to one of their contacts via their Amazon Echo device. They found out when the husband’s employee called him saying, via KIRO 7 The voice-activated assistant is used by more than 60 million U.S. consumers, according to Bloomberg. But what will happen if these devices become digital spies within our homes? Daniel Kahn Gillmor, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, to Bloomberg Daniel Kahn Gillmor, to Bloomberg Amazon Inc. issued a statement that the incident in Portland is an “extremely rare occurrence,” and the company did not state whether it was a bug or due to hacking.
Neighbor talks about 15-year-old alleged shooter
Nolan Turner, 15, who lives across the street from the 15-year-old who allegedly shot and killed his father and shot his mother talks about growing up with the teen. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas teen kills dad, wounds mom before she shoots him, police say
A 15-year-old boy shot his father to death and wounded his mother in a west valley home Thursday morning before being wounded when she got a gun and returned fire, according to Las Vegas police. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers were called just after 10:45 a.m. Thursday on the 9900 block of Barrier Reef Drive, near West Sahara Avenue and South Hualapai Way. In a briefing near the scene, police said the teenager shot his dad in the head, killing him, then shot his mom, who got another gun and returned fire. They said the boy jumped a wall and ran away, but was arrested about a quarter-mile away. Both the teen and his mom were hospitalized and are expected to survive, police said. Police did not immediately identify the family members but said the man was in his early 50s and the woman was in her late 40s. K.M. Cannon/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Native Troy Brown Jr. Preparing for NBA
Former Centennial High School player Troy Brown Jr., now 18 and one of the most accomplished high school basketball players in the history of Las Vegas, is back in his hometown preparing to play in the NBA. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Closing arguments at David Copperfield civil trial
Attorneys for British tourist Gavin Cox and MGM Resorts make their closing arguments in the David Copperfield civil trial at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Surgeon Performs Successful Rare Pancreas Surgery
Las Vegas resident Mary Duda underwent a pancreatoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure, for her pancreatic cancer. While the grandmother of 19 recovered, her doctors say she's one of the lucky ones. Pancreatic surgery can be risky and has a high morbidity rate. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Las Vegas police explorer sentenced to 25 years to life in prison
Former Las Vegas police explorer Joshua Honea sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for sexual assault of a minor, but was allowed to remain free on bail pending appeal. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Fans Line Up to Grab Their Conference Champions Gear
Golden Knights fans lined up at City National Arena Monday to snap up Conference Champions gear and other memorabilia the day after the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup Conference Finals. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas-Review Journal)
Las Vegas shooting survivor has surprise reunion
Oct. 1 mass shooting survivors Taylor Stovall and Parker Gabel meet for the first time since Gabel helped the injured Stovall to an ambulance the night of the shooting. Stovall, then 17, was shot in the arm. They met Friday at the Tropicana.
Hawaii volcano presser
Talmadge Magno of Hawaii Civil Defense gives an update on the Kilauea volcano
Same-Sex Weddings on the Rise in Las Vegas
Allie and Tara Shima finally tied the knot. They've been together for five years and have both been married before. This time, they wanted something simple, quick and cheap, but it still had to feel special. The couple chose Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Courtyard Homeless Resource Center begins building in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin kicked off the demolition of buildings where the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center will be built. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Father of fallen Marine to throw out first pitch
Rich Perez, father of Rich Perez Jr. who died while serving in the Marines in Iraq, talks about throwing out the first pitch at the Las Vegas 51s baseball game on Memorial Day. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Yanny" or "Laurel" hearing test has gone viral
'Yanny' or 'Laurel?' This Hearing Test Has Gone Viral This hearing test has gone viral on social media with some hearing "Yanny" while others swear hearing "Laurel." The voice is actually saying "Laurel," but the pitch was changed, causing some to hear "Yanny."
LVMPD Briefs on Year's Sixth Officer-Involved Shooting
Las Vegas police have identified the officer who shot a shovel-wielding woman on Saturday as 23-year-old Ondre Wills.
Police release body camera footage of shovel-wielding woman
Las Vegas police identified the woman they said threatened neighbors with a skillet Saturday night. Officer Ondre Wills, 23, shot at Sommer Richards, 34, multiple times on Big Sur Drive, near Nellis Boulevard and Desert Inn Road. Police responded to the area after receiving reports that the woman was armed with a shovel. Police said the woman chased neighbors and a security guard. Wills got between Richards and the others and repeatedly told her to drop the shovel. The woman instead turned and moved toward a person who was standing nearby before the officer fired shots. Police said she bit another officer as he attempted to render aid. Richards remains in serious but stable condition.
College of Southern Nevada Graduates 2017-18 Class
The College of Southern Nevada's graduation ceremony was held at the Thomas & Mack Center Monday. The 2017-18 class was the institution's largest in history. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro looking for suspect in bank robbery.
On Jan. 22, a man robbed a bank in the 8700 block of West Sahara Avenue.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee at opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at opening ceremony of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, speaks about the violence in Gaza. (Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Supreme Court strikes down law banning sports betting outside Nevada
The Supreme Court has overturned a federal ban on sports gambling. States other than Nevada will be allowed to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and race tracks. Justice Samuel Alito said Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, “each State is free to act on its own.” The vote was 6-3. One research firm estimates that 32 states will likely offer sports betting within five years.
Westcare Clinic Crucial to Las Vegan's Addiction Recovery
Christian Hunt, 21, was sent to Westcare in September after he ended up on drugs and in the hospital. If it weren't for the nonprofit's Community Triage Center, Hunt said he would still be using drugs. Instead, he's been sober for six months, and stopped using methamphetamines seven months ago. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Foundation Provides Full Rides for Clark County Students
Somewhere along the banks of the Ohio River in Owensboro, Kentucky, a group of students from Sin City are pursuing a higher education. Feature on the 38 Clark County students that the Rogers Foundation has given full rides to for Kentucky Wesleyan College. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Flames engulf house in Henderson
Clark County firefighters battled a house fire early Friday morning in Henderson. The house, located near Volunteer Boulevard and Executive Airport Drive, was fully engulfed in flames about 2 a.m. Shifting winds sent massive plumes of smoke across the southern Las Vegas Valley sky. As of 3 a.m. , the cause of the fire was not known and no injuries were reported.
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time Georgina Chapman was profiled for 'Vogue’s' June issue, speaking on her estranged husband for the first time since he was accused of sexual assault in October. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Chapman, who has two children with Weinstein, also said she has been seeing a therapist and that has helped her move forward. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Read the full profile on Chapman in Vogue’s June issue or online at Vogue.com.
Bark-Andre Furry the dog is a Vegas Golden Knights hockey fan
The furriest fan of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights is growing into a social media sensation. Bark-Andre Furry the Jack Russell terrier has thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspect Sought In Robbery Attempt
Attorney Gloria Allred on case against Benjamin Sparks
Attorney Gloria Allred is representing the victim in a "sex slave" case against GOP political consultant Benjamin Sparks.
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like