500 Reno Hilton employees
fear pink slips Monday


Expanded from the Sunday, 11-30-2003, Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
12-4-2003 Comstock Chronicle

I hope it's not true and, according to several employees I've spoken with, management continues to deny it. Nonetheless, the Reno Hilton remains rife with rumors that about 500 workers will be fired beginning tomorrow. The property was recently put on the market by the world's largest casino company. The official reason: the Reno operation doesn't fit in with corporate plans to become known entirely for themed casinos.

Park Place, the current company name, is being dropped for the more glamorous Caesars Entertainment. In its 25 years of existence, the Reno resort has been profitable, just not in the same league as Las Vegas Strip hotels.

The Reno layoffs will reportedly come from various departments, according to workers with whom I've spoken. The best spin which managers are giving their employees is that the layoffs are normal seasonal pink slippings. Some say it will be limited to casino staff, but 500 gambling workers would pretty much shut down the tables and slots.

Apparently, top management has not put out a blanket statement to quell rumors and tell employees where they stand. They certainly should. Quickly.

Hilton has a track record of providing those laid off in the winter with information on how to apply for public assistance. As I reported in 1995, managers were asked to persuade full-timers to volunteer for part-time by instructing them how to apply for "partial welfare."

Oher than on the casino floor, the Reno Hilton is much more heavily unionized than it was in 1995. Stagehands, boiler and elevator engineers, security guards, culinary workers, cocktail servers and bartenders are all covered with union contracts. I haven't been able to reach union leaders to see how their agreements deal with layoffs. Watch for updates as this story develops. (Anyone with additional info, please contact me and/or the Tribune newsroom at 775-358-8061.)

One worker told me that the hotel suffers from short staffing in several departments and that management has been hiring temps to supplement areas such as security and banquet setup. Some of the union contracts may have something to say about such things, especially if mass firings are followed by mass hirings of low-wage temps. Hilton's illegal subcontracting of its security service cost the company a costly and unsuccessful court battle a few years back.

"We could all be getting pink slips on Monday for all I know," said one employee, who also noted that many workers were sent home with Thanksgiving turkeys courtesy of management — after Hilton canceled the long-established tradition of an employee Christmas party.

Lumps of coal wrapped in pink paper may be coming for Reno Hilton workers just in time for Christmas.

Stay tuned.

DEMO WIMPS. On his PBS TV show last Friday, Bill Moyers quoted Weekly Standard editor and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who last January wrote that the conservative media have "cohered to form a dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system that swamps liberal efforts to get their ideas out."

Moyers made the point in an interview with New York Times/CBS Sunday Morning media critic John Leonard in discussing how CBS killed the Reagan movie, a sanitized version of which airs tonight on Showtime cable.

Missing in all the brouhaha about Sir Ronald of Whollyrood has been a substantive contribution from the Democrats. The Donkeywimps have pretty much sat shiva. Apparently no one saw the censorship by CBS as an opportunity to take some serious licks at the opposition, that the real Reagan was far from the revisionist picture being painted by Reagan zealots longing for the GOP's first saint since Lincoln.

National level Democrats wimped out on Reagan just as they've wimped out in Nevada in defending their own. Gomorrah South has recently been the source of several erupting political scandals all involving current or former Democratic Party officeholders.

There has been substantial information lacking in the news flow, especially on the issue of cashing unused sick leave, a standard practice in large organizations both public and private. But the party has put together no organized response to defend its officeholders. Somewhere out there is the new state party chairperson whose name I can't remember. The head of the Donkeyites has been leading a silence of the lambs and the year of the slaughter has not even begun.

No wonder pundits and deskpounders have been rather uniform in their comments that Nevada will have a GOP legislature to go along with its totally Republican executive branch in 2005.

To their credit, Washoe Democrats have been organizing to the point of forming a rapid response team so that the debacle of 2002 does not repeat itself. Because the Democrats were disorganized last year, Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Washoe, got away with blaming Democrats for Raggio's surrender of four legislative seats to Las Vegas. Mister Bill also got away with blaming 2002 Sparks Democratic State Senate candidate Joe Carter with the 1991 loss of tax revenue to Las Vegas which was caused by Raggio hisself. The Democrats never fired back at the lie, a good candidate lost and Sen. Maurice Washington walked home free. (Carter has never held public office but was hung with guilt by association with Democrats.)

If Nevada voters again go nuclear for His Accidency, President George Dumpya Bush, don't credit the GOP as much as the Democrats for once again losing by default

Be well. Raise hell. | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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Copyright © 1982-2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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