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PM News Brief: Free fare February, Spirit coming to Salt Lake City & grocery labor disputes

A UTA rail station in Salt Lake City
Brian Albers
It will be free to ride all Utah Transit Authority services throughout the month of February. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, Jan. 25, 2022

Northern Utah

Utah lawmakers introduce bill with hopes of saving the Great Salt Lake 

Utah Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, is sponsoring a bill aimed at keeping water levels in the Great Salt Lake at healthy levels. In the legislation, there’s four different levels of action depending on the 10-year average water level of the Great Salt Lake. In the first tier, the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands would ask nearby water districts to voluntarily share water with the lake. As the average lake level gets lower, there are more restrictive actions like requiring nearby water districts to sell or lease some of their water rights, a ban on watering grass at state facilities and increasing fees for secondary water suppliers. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Free Fare February for Utah Transit Authority services

It will be free to ride all Utah Transit Authority services throughout the month of February. That covers bus and rail, including Ski Bus, paratransit and UTA On Demand. Winter inversions have produced poor air quality in Northern Utah’s valleys several times already this winter. Free Fare February is meant to encourage people to use public transit in an effort to reduce pollution caused by cars. February monthly passes that have already been purchased will be honored throughout the month of March. Masks are still required on UTA services. The free fare offering was spearheaded by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, UTA, local governments and businesses. — Caroline Ballard

Spirit Airlines is launching in Salt Lake City 

Spirit Airlines is coming to Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City International Airport announced the budget airline’s addition to its lineup Tuesday. It’s the first time Spirit will fly to Utah and the first new domestic airline to be added to Salt Lake City’s offerings since the new airport opened in 2020. Starting May 26, Spirit will offer flights between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles. — Caroline Ballard

Utah groups receive federal grants to help families with housing  

Two Utah organizations have received grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Community Action Services in Provo will get about $37,000 and Utah State University’s Family Life Center in Logan is set to get about $46,000. HUD officials said the money will be used to help people affected by the COVID pandemic by helping families who are dealing with foreclosure or evictions. It’s also meant to improve training and education opportunities for housing counselors who help people make more informed housing decisions and provide access to services. — Ross Terrell


Smith’s workers in New Mexico could soon strike for better wages

Another labor dispute among essential grocery workers in our region is brewing. On the heels of the King Soopers strike in Colorado, employees at Smith’s in New Mexico could soon hit the picket lines. Their contracts are set to expire this month and they want higher pay and safer work conditions.Their demands mirror those of King Soopers workers who just secured new contracts after a 10-day strike. The strike would affect more than 2,500 Smith’s workers in New Mexico. The United Food and Commercial Workers local chapter has two more bargaining sessions with Smith’s this week. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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