Friday, March 1, 2013
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas tourists may have a harder time getting to their hotel room after a night of clubbing if drivers with the city's second-largest taxi company follow through with their plan to strike this weekend.
Drivers at Yellow-Checker-Star Transportation announced plans to walk off the job starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, saying the company didn't provide them enough information related to collective bargaining and unilaterally implemented a contract rejected by 70 percent of union members.
"Together, we have a refusal to provide relevant information and an imposed contract," Dennis Arrington, president of Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union Local 4873, said in a statement. "The drivers were left with no choice but to move forward with the strike."
The cab company's chief operating officer, Bill Shranko, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
A taxi strike is rare in Las Vegas, and there hasn't been a major one in recent memory, according to Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Business and Industry. That agency oversees the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which is taking a neutral position in the labor dispute but is bracing for the worst by authorizing additional cabs if the strike happens.
"The mandate of the authority is to protect the safety and the welfare of the riding public," Williams said, adding that "they take the long view of how important tourism is."
The strike comes at one of city's busiest times, with fans taking in four major college basketball tournaments and bettors flocking to sports books during March Madness. In 2012, March topped all other months, with 3.5 million visitors coming to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Jeremy Handel declined to comment specifically on how the strike might affect tourism, deferring to the cab company and the union.
Of the 1,703 drivers for Yellow-Checker-Star, 1,250 are union members, according to union officials. Out of those members, it's unknown how many plan to participate in the strike.
As a precaution, the taxicab authority has authorized up to 30 additional operating permits — called medallions — for each of the other 13 cab brands in Las Vegas. Officials with the agency will monitor the situation over the weekend and approve the extra permits as needed, Williams said.
It's the second time in recent weeks that a taxicab strike has loomed over the city. A contract has expired between the United Steelworkers Union and Frias Transportation Management, which owns five of the city's 16 brands.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports those two are expected to resume negotiations Monday.