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KUNR Today: RTC labor strike ends, Michelle Fiore enters Nevada governor race

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RTC Washoe

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.

Bus driver strike in Washoe Co. ends amid negotiations
By Michelle Billman

The bus strike in Washoe County has ended. That’s according to a statement from Reno City Councilmember Neoma Jardon, who chairs the Regional Transportation Commission board. Jardon said there have been productive negotiations between Keolis, RTC’s bus service contractor, and the Teamsters Local 533 labor union that have brought the strike to an end.

Transit workers, including bus drivers, road supervisors, and mechanics, will start returning to work over the next couple of days. There will be limited bus service Wednesday and Jardon said full service will be restored Thursday.

Due to the pandemic, RTC Washoe continues to grapple with the nationwide labor shortage, which could continue to cause delays even after normal operations resume. Additionally, RTC recently announced that it is anticipating service cuts early next year and is currently seeking public input on those proposed cuts.

Update on October 21, 2021: RTC officials say that in response to public feedback the agency at this time is not moving forward with the proposed service cuts mentioned in the above story and in a press release published on October 7, 2021.

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Labor strikes rising across Mountain West
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Labor strikes are on the rise nationwide as workers demand better pay and benefits, and our region is part of this wave.

Workers across the region have launched at least seven strikes in recent months. That’s according to Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker. The push for worker rights deepened amid the pandemic. It underscored how essential many workers are to our daily lives, but labor unions say wages and benefits fail to reflect this - and labor experts say many have been working under unsafe conditions.

Some Mountain West economies have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19, and at the same time, climate change. Some experts say those factors could lead to more worker strikes here in the future.

Pot dispensary sues South Lake Tahoe over license revocation
By The Associated Press

A marijuana dispensary is suing South Lake Tahoe, California, after the city council revoked its cannabis and businesses licenses for failing to open on time. Perfect Union SLT blames the delay on the COVID-19 pandemic. The company was awarded one of two microbusiness cannabis licenses in November 2019 as part of an agreement that gave it a year to open the business. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports the lawsuit it filed in El Dorado Superior Court claims the pandemic created the situation that prevented it from meeting the deadline. The council voted unanimously in June to revoke the licenses. The lawsuit accuses the city of a breach of contract.

GOP firebrand Michele Fiore enters Nevada governor's race
By The Associated Press

A Las Vegas city councilwoman who gained national attention for her support of anti-government militia members who clashed with federal law officers during armed standoffs last decade is running for governor of Nevada. Republican Michele Fiore announced her plan Tuesday at a news conference in Las Vegas. She's stepping into a GOP race already crowded with seven Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Other announced Republican candidates include Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller. Fiore will likely draw support from conservative Republicans who see her as a champion for gun rights and an advocate for Donald Trump.

Economists say inaction on climate change costs more than federal spending package
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

President Biden’s climate plan is a major part of his tax and spending package, but lawmakers, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, say it’s too much money. Meanwhile, environmental economists say climate change could have a much higher price tag.

Earlier this year, one report estimated that it could cost the world about $1.7 trillion a year by the middle of this decade. David Archer is a computational climate scientist at the University of Chicago. He said preventing climate change makes more sense than reacting to its impacts.

"One way to frame it might be, how much it costs to avoid putting CO2 in the air versus how much it would cost to clean it out of the air," Archer said.

A major part of President Biden’s climate plan would pay utilities to switch to clean energy sources, like wind and solar.

Critical blood shortage reported in Reno by Vitalant
By Michelle Billman

The nonprofit blood services provider Vitalant is reporting a critical shortage of blood donations in Reno. In a statement, the organization said its supply has hit levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. Specifically, Type O blood is down to a two-day supply and is the most transfused blood type.

Vitalant provides donations to more than 20 facilities in Northern Nevada and normally has a strong inventory in October. With winter weather and holidays approaching, they expect additional challenges. The organization also does not have enough platelet donations, many of which would be used for cancer patients.

For people who have recently received a COVID-19 or flu vaccine, there is not a waiting period to donate.

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