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Labor Day 2016: not just for selling sofas Labor Day Archives

Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, American Federation of Government Employees, Communications Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, and International Painters and Allied Trades pose for a quick picture at the top of C Street in Virginia City just before the 2012 Labor Day parade began. (RGJ photo provided by International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.)

The march that never ends/ Workers march through historic Virginia City on Labor Day
The fight continues two centuries down the road
KTVN TV-2 / 9-5-2016

START 'EM YOUNGReno-Sparks NAACP President and Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO retiree Patricia Gallimore strolls her stroller down the streets of Virginia City with her grandchildren during the historic Nevada town's venerable Labor Day parade. (KTVN TV-2 screen still)


Northern Nevada Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO
(775) 240-6558

Area workers again march through historic Virginia City on Monday to celebrate the value of work on Labor Day

VIRGINIA CITY, NEV. — Labor Day stands for much more than selling sofas. Area workers will take that message to the streets of Virginia City.

"Everyone is welcome to march with us in Monday's Labor Day parade," stated Northern Nevada Central Labor Council President Mike Pilcher, a longtime Reno firefighter.

"America fought the Civil War to end forced, unpaid labor and this country still suffers from the bitter after-effects," Pilcher added.

"After the war, American workers fought and died to win benefits that today are taken for granted," he said. "The eight-hour day, the 40-hour week, overtime and sick leave, workplace safety, health care, retirement benefits and protection from discrimination did not just fall out of the sky," he noted.

"Fully honoring the value of work gave the United States the strongest economy in the history of the world in the decades following World War II. Most people are not aware that at their peak, unions represented only a third of the workforce. However, independent research has consistently proven that a rising tide lifts all boats. Expanding union wages raises everyone's pay," he said. (1)

"The decline of organized labor membership perfectly correlates with the tremendously increased share of national income going to the top 10 percent of the population. Degrading the worth of work combined with government-assisted export of good jobs has resulted in the turmoil of today," Pilcher added. (2)

On Monday, union members will march to honor one of their own, retired sheet metal worker (Local 26/AFL-CIO) Samuel Kent Lumpe, who passed away on August 24 at age 76.

On the day he died, "when it was clear that he was declining rapidly, he still really wanted to attend the Labor Day fest in Virginia City," said his daughter Lora.

"Sam always showed up and quietly excelled, which is why he was inducted into the César Chávez Nevada Labor Hall of Fame," Pilcher said. "Sam will walk with us on Monday.

"Ironically, California Gov. Jerry Brown now has on his desk a bill that can finally fulfill César Chávez's fondest wish 23 years after his death. If signed, it will grant California farm workers overtime pay. At last. Nevada remains far behind," he stated.

Lumpe was a ubiquitous community volunteer, raising money for the Nevada Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, which honored him for his labors of love. In 1988, he received an award from then-Gov. Richard Bryan for registering more voters than anyone else in the state.

"Labor Day is about honoring historical struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments while recognizing the continuing spirit, productivity and value of American workers," Pilcher said.

"Commerce and labor are two sides of the same coin. Their relationship is both inseparable and symbiotic. The health of one absolutely depends upon the health of the other. All business owners know that their best customers are well-paid workers with money to spend and the time to do so. American laborers are the consumer catalysts who fuel economic success," he added.

Monday's Virginia City Labor Day Parade forms at 11:00 a.m. at the 4th Ward School, 528 South "C" Street. The event gets underway at noon. More information may be obtained by contacting Liz Sorensen at Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO (775) 322-9413. All participants are invited to a free barbecue at parade's end.

Information and photos on Virginia City Labor Day parades going back to 1908 (the last year the Chicago Cubs won a World Series) may be accessed at
1. Profs. James Medoff and Richard Freeman ("What Do Unions Do?" / Basic Books, 1984)
    Freeman's followup "America Works" (Sage Foundation, 2007)
    Economic Policy Institute "Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers — decline in unions cost nonunion workers $133 billion" (2016)

2. See graph from the Economic Policy Institute posted hereinbelow.

Mike Pilcher is the elected president of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO. He is a longtime Reno firefighter and member of International Association of Firefighters Local 731/AFL-CIO.

Another in the endless chronicles of America's ongoing disrespect for honest labor
For many working for minimum wage, the ends never meet

Editor's note: And nobody remembers workers laboring under the federal Railway Act who get LESS than the federal minimum wage
By Theresa Vargas / Washington Post/ Philadelphia Inquirer 9-5-2016

Under the Railway Act, somebody subject to tips can have tips credited against the minimum wage. Tour bus companies use a tip pool and often skim any overage to profit. They can also charge a lot of operating expenses against the tips, so those workers, e.g., guys who load/unload baggage (some of whom I've talked to), actually end up with less than the minimum. Complain? Whaddayou, dreamin'? Nobody can afford to.

Back to Labor Day Archives

Union decline and rising inequality in two charts
by Colin Gordon
Economic Policy Institute / 6-5-2012

Used in
journalist Mark Robison's extensive Hard Labor: Nevada unions tout role in helping workers, firms, economy (Sunday 2 Sept. 2012 Reno Gazette-Journal, page one, Reno Rebirth section of the print edition). Union men Jim Burrell, Paul McKenzie and Guy Louis Rocha did the movement proud. Not included in the RGJ online edition.

The Barbwire Labor Day column
Reno Gazette-Journal / 9-3-2012

Labor Day 2002 Nevada remains the High Desert Plantation
Barbwire by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-1-2002

Labor Day '94: People vs. Corporate Con-Job
A brief history of neo-con PR and the roots of corporate propaganda
Barbwire by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-4-1994 Labor Day Archives

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