Teamsters protest non-union shuttle service

Teamsters marched outside of John Wayne Airport on Wednesday to protest a new charter shuttle service, Silverado Stages, a non-union company. Shuttle services were previously provided by organized labor.

Some workers have switched over to the new provider, while others are upset that they will not be unionized.

Jenny Wedge, airport spokeswoman, said the decision to contract with the firm was made by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in July.

"Our courtesy shuttle service, that starts today with Silverado Stages, is providing us with a critical service to our operations and for our passengers," she said in a phone interview.

The free shuttle service drives passengers back and forth between the terminals and remote parking lots.

Silverado Stages contends that its services are as good as or better than what unionized employees can provide.

Jim Galusha, chief executive of Silverado Stages, said the company is known for its exemplary service, and entering into a union contract wouldn't make sense in terms of incentives and employee morale. He asserted that the wages and benefits are not significantly different from the prior union contract.

"In order to sustain our growth and encourage it, we have to strive for exemplary performance from all of our employees," Galusha said. "We find it difficult in a union environment to encourage employees to excel at their job."

Carlos Rubio of California Teamsters 911 said that many of the workers, who have been working at JWA for up to 20 years, will be facing a pay cut and a loss in benefits.

Only a few workers have been hired by Silverado, according to Rubio.

Currently, he's trying to find out how many were let go and how many are working with the new carrier.

California Teamsters 911 has been representing the courtesy shuttle workers since 1986, along with the parking attendants, valet attendants and employee shuttle workers at JWA.

Although there isn't a county agreement to used only organized labor, Rubio said the union has a long history with the airport and county.

"We're going to escalate the demonstrations," Rubio said. "We're working with the sheriff and the airport and have been getting the permits."

Wedge confirmed that the airport authorized the Teamsters to be on site in certain airport locations for up to three weeks, starting today.

Teamsters 911 will attend the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 14.

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