Fresh-killed dispatches from those in the trenches


From the 3-12-00 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

BERNSTEIN TOO LEGIT TO QUIT. Las Vegas lawyer Ed Bernstein will declare his U.S. Senate candidacy at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow on the first floor of Morrill Hall at the south end of the University of Nevada campus in Reno.

Bernstein is either trying to make education his central theme, or wants to announce in a room the size of a postage stamp.

STAMPING OUT HISTORY. Morrill Hall's namesake, U.S. Sen. Justin Morrill, just got his own 55-cent postage stamp for his authorship of the Land Grant College Act of 1862. It allowed creation of the University of Nevada, among many others. In 1973, I worked on the Morrill Hall restoration campaign. Visible from Interstate 80, the three-story classic is the oldest building at the U. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, but university officials don't brag about it. They fear that if word gets out, the Reno City Council might condemn the building and implode it.

GAS PRICES HIT HISTORIC HIGHS. Been getting a lot of comments on last week's restatement of the real reasons behind skyrocketing gasoline prices. I have re-posted my 1996 investigative series on the west coast oilogopoly . I've added links to consumer sites for those wanting additional blow by blow about what's blowing their budgets.

One beleaguered local gas station owner last week told me that people have been making a lot of $3.00 purchases. Demand has gone down, which is a smart move by consumers. However, I don't believe the proposed national gas boycott of several days will have any impact. The San Diego-based Utility Consumers Action Network is among those organizing it.

HILTON GOES TO NEW LOWS. Having just defeated the largest gambling company in the world, the little United Plant Guard Workers of America union is expanding the battle.

As I noted last week, the Reno Hilton is grudgingly obeying a court order to re-hire its wrongfully terminated security officers.

The illegally fired guards have until tomorrow to apply for reinstatement. A certified letter from Hilton Human Resources Director Lynn Wright directs guards to call Bonnie Swenson at (775) 789-2253.

The back-to-work date drips with irony: the day after April Fools' Day. Hilton owes its once and future workers back pay and benefits totaling between $3 million and $4 million. Most of them want to return to work and start organizing new union members.

Hilton hasn't changed its stripes. Down at the Flamingo Hilton in Laughlin, security staff will vote this Tuesday on forming a UPGWA local. Hilton has pulled every dirty trick in the book on them, as usual. The guards have been getting some help from the United Steelworkers, who won a long battle to represent the hotel's non-gaming employees.

RENO DOCTORS PREPARE TO MAKE HISTORY. An election petition has been filed by American Federation of Government Employees Local 2152 which seeks to represent MDs, nurses, psychologists, technicians, social workers and just about everybody else working at the Ioannis A. Lougaris Veterans Administration Medical Center in Reno. The union has represented maintenance, housekeeping and clerical staff since 1962. An election date has not been set, but if the employees win, the doctors will be the first in northern Nevada to unionize. The hospital has real problems. Management has been firing more minorities than they've been hiring, among other things. If that continues, soon, there will be none on staff.

DUDLEY DO-RIGHT RIDES IN TWO DIRECTIONS AT ONCE. On March 4, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Gov. Kenny Guinn has admitted that state government does not receive enough additional tax revenue to keep up with population growth. Political commentator Jon Ralston earlier related that Guinn made a detailed presentation to a small group of gambling industry heavyweights at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Feb. 10.

"(Guinn) said we are in dire straits," Ralston reported.

Anybody who can explain Guinn's guest editorial in last Wednesday's Reno Gazette-Journal talking about surpluses and tax cuts, please do so.

THE ANSWER TO DUDLEY'S DILEMMA. Democrats hold their precinct meetings in every county today. Those of the donkey persuasion must show up in order to become delegates to county, state and national conventions. Washoe County Dems meet at 2:00 p.m. in the Blue & Silver Room at Lawlor Events Center on the UNR campus. I guarantee some interesting conversation as I gather signatures for the initiative petition written by Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas. He proposes to raise the gross gaming tax on the largest, most obscenely profitable casinos. It will at least provide a down payment toward equalizing years of pickpocketing the public purse by the gambling-industrial complex.

Casinos have been recently forced to raise low level pay. KRNV TV-4 last week reported that local fast food joints are having trouble finding workers. McDonald's magnate Luther Mack espoused a sub-minimum "training wage" for new hires. No wonder people don't want to work for him.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE. Congress is agonizing over hiking the minimum wage to $6.15 per hour over as long as three years. Three years! When the U.S. economy reached its historical peak in 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60. Had it merely kept up with inflation, it would today stand at $7.76.

Be well. Raise hell.


NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past four years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 where an earlier version of this column appeared on 3/12/00.

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