Laborers and Operating Engineers repave the parking lot of the Committee to Aid Abused Women.

Letters to the Editor


Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2006 11:06:26 a.m. PDT

Good morning.

I am a retired public employee, having worked for both the State of Nevada and Washoe County. I read your article in this morning’s paper and was very curious about the statement in it that referred to Mr. Gibbons' proposal to gut the Public Employees Retirement System. I had not heard anything about this until now. Could you please explain his idea to me and or let me know where I can find out more about this. Thank you in advance for your help.

Dear Reader: Glad to. Not only does GOP gubernatorial nominee Gibbons present a true risk to retirees, but Democratic Sen. Titus could also use a little labor education. Read it and weep, spread the word, be well, raise hell. — Andrew


Get it straight

Mr. Barbano:

It is time to put to rest your specious "corporate welfare" in Sparks comments. The Nugget PAYS taxes including property, income, SSI, Medicare, Workers Comp. etc. Any legal tax deduction is NOT welfare. Why don't you move to California where you can pay a nice state income tax?

Sparks, 5-20-Y2K

Dear Mr. Vincent:

All you submit in the industry's defense is that it pays anything it is forced to pay in order to do business and make huge profits. My heart bleeds.

Gaming lobbyists admitted in 1997 that the "Lucky Bucks" tax break was a giveaway to the casinos, pure and simple. It acts as a true license to print money, allowing them to deduct funny money coupons at face value from their state tax payments. The weak rationale for the tax break was that subsidizing casino coupons would allow the clubs to promote more and generate more revenue and thus more gaming taxes.

In reality, the casinos simply had enough lawmaker votes and decided to cash in a few campaign contributions. Please read the news stories about it posted at

A bill by Sens. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, to close the loophole never got a hearing in 1999.

Steve Wynn's art tax break has bled tens of millions from Nevada school children. Justify that -- I dare you.

Those are the actions of megabucks welfare queens, sir, any way you slice it.

Thanks for writing.

Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano


Michael Moore
Dog Eat Dog Films/The Awful Truth

Dear Mike:
If you can get to anytime today, please look closely at the photo. There's an extremely unattractive guy with a beard wearing a 49er jacket and black CWA baseball cap carrying a "Jobs with Justice" picket sign. You may recognize the book cover bearing a photo of another guy in a baseball cap in the upper right-hand corner of the placard.

The photo will probably disappear at 11:50 p.m. PST Saturday, 2/19.

You may access the accompanying story at

We will be posting it at, where you and Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken still appear on our labor linx page.

The 600+ demonstrators were protesting against the cruel and unusual punishments imposed upon those unfortunate enough to have to go to work every day in Reno casinos. Circus Circus, the Reno Hilton and the Reno Flamingo Hilton are stonewalling on contracts.

Circus Circus is a renewal, the Hiltons are unionized everywhere else in the country but have busted unions and fired people in Reno for the past eight years. Circus Circus busted out its security guards union without ever bargaining in good faith on a contract.

It was ironic that our march took us past the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission which feeds a lot of full time casino workers every day. Many of them simply don't make enough money to both pay rent and eat.

Marchers included some of the Reno Hilton's illegally fired security guards who have beaten Hilton in every round up to the DC Court of Appeals. Hilton is now in its fifth day of ignoring a court order to put the people back to work. The United Plant Guard Workers of America (based in Roseville, Michigan) are one tough little union. We chanted "Downsize This!" thru the streets of Reno on many occasions before Friday.

The abovenoted photo veritably drips with irony. It appears in today's Reno Gazette-Journal, a Gannett paper, which, as you are aware, has locked out its workers at the Detroit News for the past three years plus.

The publisher of the Reno paper, Sue Clark-Johnson, sits on the board of Harrah's, for which she has been roundly castigated by readers and journalism pros nationwide.

The paper has always added a disclaimer to gambling industry editorials noting that the boss did not participate in forming the opinion because of her cushy Harrah's moonlighting gig. They made an exception on Feb. 9 when the paper blasted Sen. Joe Neal's initiative petition to raise the gross gaming tax on the state's largest, most obscenely profitable casinos. The only conclusion is that they either forgot or Ms. Clark-Johnson did indeed participate and they're too ashamed to admit it.

Sen. Neal's petition calls for a pay raise for the Nevada Highway Patrol, giving them parity with the highest paid officers in the state. NHP troopers are grossly undercompensated.

Union painters in your home town of Flint, Michigan, make $23 per hour, which is more than a seven-year Nevada highway patrolman earns. How do I know? Mike Wiltse recently resigned as president of the Nevada Highway Patrol Association to go back to Flint to take a teaching job. His brother is a painter. Their family knows yours.

Sen. Neal and I and the rest of the Nevada chapter of Mike's Militia eagerly await the news season of "The Awful Truth" on Bravo cable.

Keep up the good work and remember that your troops out here on the Sagebrush Plantation remain ready to move at a moment's notice.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano, CWA Local 9413
The Daily Sparks Tribune
(775) 786-1455
Fax 747-0979


Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 15:00:25 EST
Subject: Re: Downsize This! on the streets of Reno, Part Deux

andrew -- you are awesome!!!!!! keep up the great work!!!!


Due to the lack of knowledge many of the traveling public have on our roadways, especially in safety construction zones, I'd like to refresh their memory.

First, when you approach an intersection with flaggers, save every one involved some time and use your turning signal. It takes at least 30 seconds for the flagger to figure out where you want to go when you are pointing through your tinted windows. It takes maybe half a second to turn your signal on (located on the left of the steering column).

Secondly, flaggers are not present to give driving lessons. They are there for the safety of the public and workers. Slowing down and showing simple common courtesy would be the responsible and safe action to take. Flagging is certainly not easy money. Most go to work with the hope of returning home to their fam ilies unharmed. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Construction workers are killed due to careless, self-centered drivers.

To the people who are patient, friendly and cautious, thank you.

To others, you need to slow down, pay attention, don't brush your teeth while driving, wait for a safe place to converse on your phone and please, wave with all five fingers.

Cory Williams
Kings Beach, Calif.

Editor's note: This letter to editor by Ms. Cory Williams, a member of Laborers' Union Local 169, appeared in the 8-24-99 Reno Gazette-Journal and is reproduced here with the writer's permission.-- AB

Read more about the Flagger Moms' Safety Campaign at U-News.


I just wanted to thank you for Barbwire, and your activism for labor. I am a member of IBEW local 46 in Seattle, and serve as our Political Action Instructor (our PAC also teachs members how to get involved in political campaigns). The Chairman of my District Democratic Organization. During the 1998 election cycle I unsuccessfuly ran for the Washington State House of Representatives (lost by 5000 votes to a popular Republican incumbent) and have already started campaigning for 2000.

I want to thank you for your involvement and ask you to continue to motivate Union Members to get involved. Any suggestions that you may have to help motivate more grassroots involvement in Washington State Politics would be appreciated.

In solidarity,
Brother Rich Hildreth
IBEW 46 (Seattle)


Thanks for the good work in pro-labor issues. I just found the nevadalabor site....I just signed up today to distribute the initiative petition for campaign finance reform.

Jerry Watson
Sparks, Nevada

Andrew, your column rules!
Michael Moore


Are the hotel workers in Nevada unionized? I am curious because I would like to know if hotel workers, especially dealers are required to sign any waivers indemnifying the hotel/casino for health related problems due to tobacco smoke?

David Brotman
, c. July, 1999

5-27-2002 Update — Second-hand smoke study expanded to northern Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP 5-26-02) - Researchers are expanding a four-year, $2.3 million study on the effects of second-hand smoke in the workplace to northern Nevada.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno want to include a Reno site where non-smokers work in smoky environments. Chris Pritsos, chairman of UNR's Department of Nutrition and the lead researcher on the project, is trying to recruit 375 non-smoking workers for the study and already has 51 taking part in Las Vegas. He wants to learn whether a combination of antioxidant vitamin supplements might reduce the health risk for bartenders, cocktail waitresses and others who work inside smoky casinos and bars. "We wanted to expand the study so we could include more workers in multiple sites and draw broader, more conclusive findings," he said. Volunteers will be split into groups taking different levels of supplements to find out which are most effective. Participants will take them for two years. A preliminary 1997 study Pritsos conducted showed promising evidence that a combination of supplements might provide some protection against second-hand smoke.

"Determining the best level and which antioxidants to take is important because the vitamin and mineral industry is loosely regulated," he said.

"Often the general public is led to believe that more is better - which may or may not be the case." The research project is being funded by the National Institutes of Health, and is the first major study into the effects of workplace exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The Nevada School of Medicine is working with UNR on the study, which was launched last year. A study published last year in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found Nevada had the fewest smoke-free work environments in the nation. Nevada ranks second only to Kentucky in the percentage of adult smokers, and has the highest rate of asthma and deaths from smoking-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2,600 people die each year in Nevada from smoking-related illnesses.

Source: Associated Press

Mr. Brotman:
Alas, your question has three answers: yes, no and maybe so. In southern Nevada, the majority of hotel workers - but not casino dealers - are represented by unions. In downtown Las Vegas and Clark County, which includes the famed Strip, more than 45,000 workers belong to Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders and Beverage Local 165. Other unions also have a strong presence at southern Nevada resorts, e.g., the Operating Engineers and stagehands (IATSE).
In Laughlin, at the southern tip of in Clark County at the Arizona border, Flamingo Hilton workers are represented by the United Steelworkers.
In northern Nevada, Culinary Local 86 represents workers at only one hotel, Circus Circus in Reno. Such was not the case 23 years ago when a consortium of Reno-Sparks-Lake Tahoe hotels decided to fight renewal of the union's contracts. They obstructed the culinary union at every level of the National Labor Relations Board and the federal judiciary, eventually ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
When all was said and done in 1993, culinary attorney Richard McCracken lamented that he had won every round but that there was little membership left to enjoy it.
The northern Nevada culinary vacuum was filled briefly by the carpenters union, which tried to organize several Reno hotel-casinos in the mid-90's. In 1994, they won an election to represent the majority of Reno Flamingo Hilton non-gaming workers. They lost elections in 1993 and 1995 to represent a similar group at the 2,001-room Reno Hilton (formerly the MGM Grand), northern Nevada's largest gambling property.
The Reno Hilton was found guilty of 66 labor law violations by the NLRB, but a change of presidents at the international level in 1995 resulted in the carpenters union discontinuing its hotel-casino organizing effort. They left a clear field for the culinary union, which promised continuation of the carpenters efforts.
The culinary union now says that it is making Reno an issue in current negotiations to renew contracts along the Las Vegas Strip. Two major stumbling blocks remain. The first is an extra 10 cents per hour for hotel maids, without which a newly-hired worker could not qualify to purchase an entry-level home. The second is recognition of the union at both Hilton Reno properties.
Outside of culinary, several unions represent a few hotel workers in northern Nevada, but the percentage is small compared to Las Vegas. The carpenters represent maintenance workers at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks and at some South Lake Tahoe casinos. The Plumbers and Pipefitters have long had a contract with the Reno Flamingo Hilton. The Stationary Engineers represent workers at the Reno Hilton and Reno Circus Circus. IATSE represents stagecraft employees at the Reno Hilton. Elevator Constructors members also work at that hotel.
United Plant Guard Workers of America Local 1010 represents security guards at the Reno Hilton and Circus Circus, although both of those situations are currently tangled up in NLRB appeals. (A full update will soon appear at In the interim, see the Nov. 30 installment of Barbwire by Barbano, "Baby Rape: coming soon to a casino near you." Click on the Barbwire icon on the Nevada Labor'zine home page.)
The carpenters' 1993-95 Reno/Flamingo Hilton elections included a smattering of casino employees, such as change personnel and slot machine mechanics. The union did a lot of work representing those workers at both properties. Other than the two Hiltons and an occasional slot mechanic (such as Circus Circus-Reno/Stationary Engineers), I know of few gambling workers who have enjoyed union representation.
This is especially true of the frontline dealers who eat cigarette smoke every day. Casino employees in Atlantic City, NJ, have several times voted down unions in elections marred by charges of company intimidation and NLRB complaints. High-priced professional union busters are masters at instilling and exploiting worker fear.
Despite their long oppression, casino dealers have always been difficult to organize. Now, with more than 10,000 professional union busters working for corporate America, the potential looks bleaker than ever.
With no union protection, dealers have had to resort to the courts. Nevada jurisprudence is filled with cases of dealers who have sued for relief of workplace hazards (Harvey's-Lake Tahoe, pesticide poisoning; Circus Circus-Reno, carbon monoxide) and discrimination (Sands Regency-Reno, age and gender; Reno Hilton, race and gender; Las Vegas Hilton, age and gender.) All of the above resulted in worker wins, save the recently filed carbon monoxide case. (You will find several references to these cases in the Barbwire archive.)
Overall, Nevada courts have given workers little while maintaining the Silver State's pro-employer, fire-at-will environment. Without a personal services or union contract, Nevada workers have no rights under state law.
The Nevada Casino Dealers Association and others sprang up in the 1980's in reaction to a common foe, the Internal Revenue Service. The NCDA remains today as an strong advocate, albeit not a dealers union. While the association cannot bargain collectively and enjoys none of the federal union protections, it does meet with management to resolve grievances. The group also lobbies public bodies.
Along with the fabled Los Angeles drywall strikers of the early 1980's, the NCDA serves as one of my models for the guerrilla union of the future. Both have enjoyed success while effectively operating outside the strictures of federal labor law with its momentum-killing endless appeals.
The NCDA's longtime head is Tony Badillo. You can reach them at (702) 474-9766. They are located at 1120 Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Mr. Badillo can bring you up to speed on casino-tobacco issues. Secondary smoke has been a hot issue lately in Nevada media. However, despite the establishment on non-smoking areas, the gambling-industrial complex caters to its smoking customers.
Juice lawyer Harvey Whittemore, the gambling industry's top lobbyist, also represents big tobacco. He was directly responsible for passage of the toughest "tobacco pre-emption" law in the nation. No Nevada local government may now pass a more restrictive anti-smoking statute than exists at the state level, and our state law is as loose as they come. For more information, contact Mark Savage (, legislative affairs director of the Nevada chapter of the American Cancer Society. His office phone number is (702) 329-0609. His pager/voice mail is (702) 858-9055.
Nevada gamblers long ago learned that their bedrock customer suffers from an addictive personality and is thus highly susceptible to abuse of liquor, gambling and smoking. Casino marketers push for the compulsives. The pros know that their highest effectiveness lies in catering to all seven deadly sins, including gluttony and lust.
Non-smoking casinos have failed because addictives prefer patronizing full-service providers. I still consider my 1989 column about the bust of the non-smoking casino at Reno's Ponderosa Hotel as the definitive work on the subject (not because the column was so insightful, but because the issue has largely been ignored by anyone else).
I have never heard of employees being forced to sign liability waivers for secondary cigarette smoke, but, given the long history of Nevada gamblers crushing their workers at every opportunity, it would not surprise me.
Thanks for your interest in an issue of great importance
Be well. Raise hell.--AB

Although you are not a union website but an E-zine you will be considered for [a link to our web] page. Sorry for any delay this may cause.
In solidarity.
Dan McHugh

Dear Brother McHugh:
Yesterday I could not spell E-zine and today I are one. Thanks for the compliment and reality check. I'll tell the sales staff it's time to reposition our marketing.--AB

The web page is great. You're a leading edge kind of guy.
Las Vegas

Keep up the great work!!
Mike (Michael Moore)

Dear Editor:
It's a breath of fresh air. I am so tired of having my news filtered and spoon fed to me complete with the same old tired one sided opinions. I really enjoyed hearing the other side of the story and will come back for more news from this website.
Boston, MA

Three cheers for the UPS teamsters. As a former PATCO member, you can't imagine how glad I was to see someone finally make some progress in what has been an up hill struggle for labor since the slaughter of our union in 1981. Ronnie (Reagan) kicked our butts good and the 16 year-old lockout continues to this day. The scabs killed us, a vindictive president and his band of merry men buried us and the present occupant of the White House (his rhetoric aside) has thus far refused to unlock the gates to the cemetery.
As a former PATCO member, I'm torn between emotions when it comes to labor issues/problems. On the one hand, I feel guilty about my involvement in an event that made it easier for big business, the far right, and other anti-worker groups to beat hell out of organized labor. Likewise, I can't help but rejoice when victories are won. I could go on and on but have found that it's better not to.
I found [your website] in a couple of places. I'm a member of the American Postal Workers Union and happen to be on Bobby Donelson's e-mail list where he posted some of your stuff. I did an Excite Netcaster search looking for labor and found you there also.
Thanks for your interest and I wish you well in your struggle.
(Mr.) Terry W. Gloege
2052 Westridge Court
Wichita KS 67203-1063

May I suggest as a link, NATCA Voice? That is a union of Air Traffic controllers. The membership is about 10,000. Covering skilled professionals, it is not the sort of union one would expect to be really pro-active on the new labor movement. Still, it is a GREAT site, covering ALL of labor with enthusiasm.
Ralph Norman

The NATCA Voice is a grassroots newsletter and website. We belong to NATCA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Our site is dedicated to labor issues and not just NATCA issues. We have an extensive archive of labor articles and links on line. We will add a link both in our permanent labor section and also in the UPS section. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Hi Andrew.
I created the website for the Ashland local of UPS. Although their strike is over, I am trying to get them to designate someone for the site I can work with and post ongoing newsletters, etc., for their union.
My interest in this? My husband is a member of USWA Local 12004 and they were locked out of the workplace for six months last year. I had never seen how a union sticks together and helps each other until then. Doing a website for them was one way I could help. That's why I jumped in and did the UPS Teamsters site.
The URL for my husband's union which I maintain is: http://CyberView-USA.Com/USWA12004
I just moved it there from GeoCities and some of the links are not in place yet but I hope to get it cleaned up in the next few days. I will add your URL to the links page at that site.
(Linda J LaCarte Livingstone)

Look at all the wonderful reasons Nike is thinking of moving to Nevada. According to the recent chart in the Reno Gazette-Journal, I thought Gee, they couldn't be better off unless they moved to Bangladesh. They can move right in here, bring their Oregon employees to dump on the schools, not pay taxes for their impact. No unions, no taxes. We're just like a third world country and we're right across the border.
Ain't we the lucky ones?
Carol Walton, President
American Federation of Government Employees Local 2152
Ioannis A Lougaris Veterans Administration Hospital, Reno

They'd invite Michael Jordan to cut the ribbon, but I don't think his contract requires him to visit the third world. Maybe they can get Ben Johnson or Mike Tyson. I understand both need some work.--AB

Editor's note: The following letters came in during the 1997 Teamsters national UPS strike.

This memo has arisen our of disappointment and anger to an attitude of ignorance and arrogance from a couple of full-time brothers during our picket.
I, myself, am a part-time, dues-paying, sign-carrying member for two years now. During our picket, I was chatting with some others when one driver blatantly stated that "you (part-timers) can live on $55 (picket pay). I can't."
Now, excuse me, but what the hell is that supposed to mean? I calmly reminded my uninformed brother that the vast majority of us part-timers also have AT LEAST one other full-time job, as we do not share in your good fortune (yet) of entertaining ONLY ONE GOOD FULL-TIME JOB. We have to do 12-16 hours a day to make up the difference, remember?!! By the way, isn't this what we are all fighting for, job security??
Then, another full-timer, during a heated moment, blurted out "Hey, this is MY JOB I'm fighting for!" Well, the last time I checked, we were all in this thing together. As I am sure that all full-timers don't share this attitude, I was just really upset about this. After all, that is what UNION, COLLECTIVE BARGAINING and SOLIDARITY stand for. We are, in fact, all together and no one person, situation or job stands alone above another!
We may all be out here together for awhile and, God willing, may it be a professional, peaceable and profitable demonstration for us all.
Fran Caliendo-Richardson
Sunrise Sorter

I am a part-time loader for UPS. Before I worked for the company, I worked at a bank for 17 years before I was laid off when they moved their operations to another area. I have a terminally ill son and tried for a year to find any state, federal, local or any aid I could get to help out. Since my spouse works, it was useless.
I searched out the best companies with good reputation and benefits and picked UPS. Because of UPS and the Teamsters, they both made our lives more bearable. When we went on strike, I was torn between them both. Should I be faithful to the company that hired me or the organization that has helped me in so many ways? There's no question about it, who I should be faithful to.
This strike has had a big effect on business and UPS alike, but for the family of the employee, it's much more than just money. It's dignity and honor. Since this strike, I realize that the union is a family-oriented group of individuals that bond together to fight for what they believe in and I'm with them all the way.
I, myself, and my family and friends want to say thank you to Local 533.
Name witheld by request
Sparks, Nev.

Is there a place where we can send contributions to striking Teamsters?
Sparks, Nevada

Thanks for the idea. No one has mentioned it on the front lines, but the $55 a week strike pay due to start in a couple of weeks won't go far. I'll pass along your suggestion about strike fund contributions. Watch this space for a reply. AB

UPDATE 8/10: Preliminary feedback is that strike fund contributions from individuals are fine. We'll let you know more shortly. Workers have expressed appreciation for the suggestion. The $55 a week strike pay, when it starts to come in, won't go very far--AB

As a fellow Nevadan and American, you and I enjoy and take for granted some wonderful privileges. We are ensured freedoms that others are denied by the minute. Freedom of speech and religion, right to bear arms, right to equality whether you are a woman, minority or handicapped (some of us have to fight a little harder).
As for myself, I am not willing for one second to give up any of these freedoms without a fight. Tell me why, then, are we as Nevadans and Americans so willing to relinquish all rights and freedoms for which we have worked so hard?
I don't believe that is necessary and the only strength we have is in collective bargaining. As a UPS employee and as a Teamster, we just want a fair contract with job security, good full-time jobs and the protection of our health and welfare plan for Americans and their families.
Please support us in our fight for our rights and urge UPS to negotiate and settle this dispute. Call them in Atlanta, (404) 828-6161, or toll-free 1-800-PICK-UPS (1-800-742-5877).
Thanks for your support.

Fran Caliendo-Richardson
Sunrise sorter

"I am asking today for your assistance in a matter that greatly impacts my business and thousands of other businesses."
So begins a letter from Mr. Frank Lombardo, manager of a Mail Boxes, Etc., franchise in Carson City. One of my old talk radio listeners now works for him and put him on the phone with me, feeling I could present the workers' point of view. I faxed him the executive summary of the Teamsters' study of UPS part-time work released by the union earlier this week. The study is available on the web in the bargaining information section. It's worth your time to read.
I also sent Mr. Lombardo the truth about the UPS pension plan raid, a scheme to disqualify years of work which employees have put toward retirement while getting non-UPS pensioners to subsidize company payouts to future retirees.
Mr. Lombardo sent me his letter to the president and told me honestly where he got it. UPS prevailed upon Mail Boxes, Etc., corporate management to distribute to franchisees a form letter for the president and local papers. The exact same letter, from a different small business in the south, was featured on CNN Friday afternoon.
Should you see a letter starting with the above sentence and asking the president to end the strike in the name of national security under the Taft-Hartley Act, you'll know who planted it.
An ironic footnote: Mr. Lombardo was in the process of applying for a UPS delivery job when the strike happened. He plans to keep his Mail Boxes, Etc., franchise, too.--AB

Home Page

 Labor Links | NevadaLabor History
About the Editor | | U-News
Breaking News & Bulletins + Almanac
Guinn Watch | Politics | BallotBoxing.US | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive

War Rooms: Cabbies, Cable TV, Cancer Kids, Energy, Resurge.TV, Starbucks, Wal-Mart

Search this site | In Search Of...


Site designed & maintained by Deciding Factors
Comments and suggestions appreciated