Hot stock tips: Nader, Bradley and Nevada casinos
Updated from the 6-25-00 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
I usually don't give advice on where to invest, but I've got inside information. Hell, I am inside information. The following advice and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee just about anywhere.
RALPH NADER: BUY. Last month, I was the opening act for United Auto Workers President Stephen Yokich at the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America convention at the MGM Las Vegas. I had no idea how Mr. Nader stood with the UAW after his decades of criticizing the safety of automobiles.
A few days before my speech, I saw Nader on C-Span calling for repeal of the Taft-Hartley Law. Passed by Congress in 1947 over President Truman's veto, it gave the United States the most repressive labor laws in the industrialized world. It has been the single biggest factor behind a subsequent two-thirds reduction in union membership.
Not knowing how Nader (who visited Reno in March) stood with the 800,000-member UAW, I decided to take a shot anyway. The SPFPA was born because of the Taft-Hartley Law. In an attempt to weaken industrial unions, the measure ordered the separation of security guards from other factory employees.
The United Plant Guard Workers of America (now SPFPA) had to be carved out of the UAW almost overnight. When major auto parts manufacturers refused to recognize the new union, only UAW support saved it from extinction.
After warming up a full convention hall with Nevada stories, I said "last week, a presidential candidate, for the first time in my memory, called for repeal of Taft-Hartley. It was not Al Gore. It was Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader, who by virtue of that statement just became the most pro-labor of the candidates. Anybody here have Al Gore's phone number?"
I could see eyes in the audience move from me to Yokich, seated behind me on the stage.
I had no idea what was coming next. SPFPA Regional Director James Allen rose to introduce Yokich. They attended the same Michigan high school and both served in the Korean War. Yokich and Allen are living links to the days when the UAW and the SPFPA were one.
Steve Yokich related how he told President Clinton face-to-face that "you're wrong on the North American Free Trade Agreement."
He added that "some say Ralph Nader is the candidate of the Green Party."
I stopped breathing.
"He's the candidate of the Blue and Green Party!" The blue-collar audience erupted in applause.
"Ralph Nader is a good friend," Yokich continued. "He is of Lebanese descent, as was my mother. Ralph Nader will hold Gore and Bush's feet to the fire" on labor issues this year, Yokich said.
"I'm a trade unionist. I'm going to vote and work and walk for those who support me. As our friend who spoke before me just said, 'we've got a lot of work to do,'" Yokich concluded as the crowd went wild.
A few weeks later, Nader and Yokich met in Detroit. Last week, Nader and Teamsters Union President James Hoffa held a press conference. Neither union has endorsed Nader or Gore.
The vice-president is apparently quite concerned over the wayward affections of 2.2 million union members and their families. Last Thursday, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., trashed Nader.
"The assistant Democratic leader who is a Gore loyalist, contacted several labor leaders...discouraging them from defecting to Mr. Nader. In an interview, he bluntly condemned Mr. Nader as a spoiler," the New York Times reported Friday.
"'Ralph Nader is a very selfish person and he's on an ego trip,' Mr. Reid said. 'He has no respect for the process,'" Reid told the Times.
Not only were his remarks published on the 53rd anniversary of the passage of Taft-Hartley, but coming from just about anybody else, they could have been interpreted as one Democrat defending another. But a statement from the Senate Democratic whip is official.
An assistant party leader's job description includes acting as attack dog. The cannonade from Nevada's senior senator came right from the top. Gore's uptight with good reason.
[UPDATE: On Aug. 11, 2000, the United Auto Workers endorsed Al Gore. Insiders told NevadaLabor.com that the executive board vote came over the objections of General President Steve Yokich, who continued to support Nader.]
BILL BRADLEY: BUY, BUY. Unbeknownst to most, the former New Jersey senator has not released his delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Party stalwarts around the nation fear a Gore meltdown by August.
AL GORE: BYE-BYE? A growing number do not think Gore will be the nominee. Things would be bad enough just reading the polls, where Gore is proving to be the same lackluster presidential candidate he was in 1988.
"So far, the best thing he's had going is Bush," one insider told me.
The party regulars are steamed that, unlike in the past, there will be no pre-convention regional platform conferences this year. You can get away with that kind of top-down control in the GOP. Democrats will start a revolution.
[UPDATE: A few days after this column ran, the Democrats hastily convened sparsely attended "platform hearings" in Missouri. Those who suffered through them on C-SPAN saw nothing resembling the rambunctious hearings of yore. They witnessed less than a dozen uncomfortable Democrats sitting around a horseshoe-shaped table, aimlessly talking but very conscious of the cameras present.]
NEVADA GAMBLING CORPORATIONS: BUY, BUY, BUY. Last week's Las Vegas Review-Journal poll showed two in three Nevadans supporting Sen. Joe Neal's, D-North Las Vegas, petition to increase the gross gaming tax. It rocked the gambling-industrial complex all the way to Wall Street.
I got calls from several New York stock analysts wanting to know more about Neal's proposal.
I told them that Neal's modest tax increase will not take effect until 2003 and will have little impact on a super-profitable industry. Besides, a five percent increase becomes a three percent increase after Nevada taxes are deducted from federal tax returns.
Relating that fact seemed to calm the Wall Street heavy hitters. I'm always happy to help the harried sleep better.
Be well. Raise hell.
© Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413, editor of NevadaLabor.com, and manager of Sen. Neal's website. He makes no gambling industry investments, save an occasional $20 bet on trifles like political races and initiative petitions. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
Site maintained by Deciding Factors
Comments and suggestions appreciated