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More than a dozen RTC employees test positive for COVID-19

Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission to give free rides on Election day. (RTC)
Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission to give free rides on Election day. (RTC)
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A Reno teamsters union says more than two dozen bus drivers employed through the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) have tested positive for COVID-19.

The President of the Teamsters Local 553 union Gary Watson, claims the commission is ignoring the safety of their employees during the pandemic.

"The bus drivers with our union worry about going to work," says Watson.

Some buses are overcrowded and some riders aren't wearing masks.

Watson says RTC isn't following COVID-19 rules instructed by Gov. Steve Sisolak. He claims bus drivers must first give a warning to people who are not wearing masks, but claims RTC is not requiring people to wear them at all.

"The most vulnerable populations including the elderly, homeless, young, disabled, and people of color are riding these buses daily. Some riders are even going to get tested for COVID-19 while having it," says Watson.

RTC's contractor, Keolis North America, confirms there's been a spike in cases within their workforce. However, they confirm at least 15 RTC employees tested positive, not two dozen, since the pandemic started.

General Manager of Keolis, Abul Hassan, says they aren't taking the positive cases lightly - but aren't attributing all cases to bus passengers.

"Bus drivers make up a great percent of our work-force," says Hassan.

Transit is an essential business and we're following the rules to make sure people can get to where they need to go every day.

Hassan says the drivers could be getting the virus from their families or places outside of work. He continued to say the claims made by the union are 'disingenuous' and they should 'reach a common understanding' on what is happening aboard RTC's buses.

The teamsters union filed charges of illegal and unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board and won earlier this year.

Currently, the union has gone to U.S. District Court with Keolis. The current lawsuit has not been resolved.

To learn more about Keolis for North America, click here.

To learn about about Teamsters Local 533, click here.

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For any suggestions, questions, or concerns, feel free to reach out to our reporter, Miles Buergin.

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