Las Vegas Taxi Drivers Win After 2-Month Strike

LAS VEGAS —Some 1,800 Las Vegas taxi drivers, the first taxi drivers to unionize in the U.S., a decade ago, have won a 2-month strike against one of the city’s largest taxi firms, Yellow Checker Star, the Office and Professional Employees said.
Bargainers for OPEIU Local 4873 and the cab company, known as YCS, signed the new pact on May 2, a day after reaching agreement, the union said.
The new contract increases the drivers’ share of meter receipts, reinstates eligibility for the 4-day work week of 12 hours per day and 10-hour daily shifts and increases annual bonuses and other benefits.
The Las Vegas win is important for the labor movement, which has been emphasizing organizing low-wage workers who need unions even more, including taxi drivers, home health care workers and security officers. But unions also must show they can win for those workers against employers who had their own way for years.
YCS forced its drivers to strike on March 3 by breaking labor law by refusing to give the union information it needed for bargaining. YCS also tried to impose its “last, best and final” contract offer on the drivers. And the company garnered support from the city taxi commission, which authorized other taxi companies to put more cabs on the road at any one time. The union overcame both obstacles.

“The drivers were left with no choice but to move forward with the strike,” Local 4873 President Dennis Arrington said then.
“I’m extremely proud of the fact that we have the loyal support of so many drivers, all of whom are the heart and soul of this struggle,” said Office and Professional Employees President Michael Goodwin. “These drivers, although enduring a great deal of personal hardship, stood together and proved that through solidarity and collective bargaining, workers can improve their quality of life.”
“The drivers stood strong during a very difficult strike, and now have a contract that brings the 1,800 drivers employed by YCS the respect and dignity they deserve,” added Arrington, whose local also represents other professional workers nationwide.
“We fought back against the companies’ attempts to force senior drivers to work five or six days per week, at 60 and 72 hours. And all of the striking drivers will return to work at the same time on May 2,” he stated.
Other unions and a pro-union insurer, American Income Life, rallied to the taxi drivers’ cause. The OPEIU local gained support from Unite Here Local 226, the biggest and most politically influential union local in Las Vegas, with 50,000 members. Other unions backing the drivers included the Teamsters, the Communications Workers, the Letter Carriers, the Seafarers, AFSCME, the Machinists, the Nevada AFL-CIO and the California School Employees Association.