December 7, 1997
Two non-union women fired by Douglas County firm during UPS strike
Federal charges dropped against Bently Nevada Corp.
MINDEN, Nevada (U-News)Two
women at Bently Nevada, a Douglas County industrial company,
were fired on August 8 for refusing to sign for UPS deliveries.
On August 15 they filed charges of illegal termination and unfair
labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board in Oakland,
Jessica Gomes (above) and Carlene O'Neil were
fired by Bently Nevada for supporting the UPS strike.
Jessica Gomes, 40, of Gardnerville, Nev., and
Carlene O'Neil, 56, of Carson City, Nev., had worked five years
as stores clerks at Minden-based Bently Nevada Corp. when they
were fired for refusing to sign for a UPS delivery during the
Carlene O'Neil remains unemployed. Jessica Gomes
works as a keno runner at a Minden casino for $5.00 per hour.
Both had their unemployment claims denied because Nevada law
will not allow compensation for anyone fired in a labor dispute.
Teamsters Local 533 attorneys Larry Yenko and Michael Langton
successfully appealed the denials. Nevada union members continue
to donate to the Carlene O'Neil-Jessica Gomes Family Fund c/o
Operating Engineers Federal Credit Union, 1290 Corporate Blvd.,
Reno NV 89502.
The news has not been so good at the National
Labor Relations Board. The federal body decided to drop action
against Bently Nevada. Their rationale: the activity involved
must be both concerted (more than one person involved) and protected
by the National Labor Relations Act.
The Oakland NLRB office ruled that the law does
not protect the women who asked co-workers to sign for UPS parcels
during the strike. It does not qualify as a sympathy strike,
according to NLRB supervising attorney Don Rhoads.
"The problem in this case is they were not
doing any UPS work," he told the Carson City Nevada Appeal.
"If the procedure would have been to unload the UPS truck,
then that's protected."
Teamsters attorneys Langton and Yenko have filed
an appeal of that decision. A detailed legal report will appear
UPDATE 1998 :
Fired Bently Workers Win at Highest Level
Jessica Gomes killed in
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December 5, 1997
begins Park Lane picketing
Protest of low wages at new Reno Syufy/Century
Federal discrimination charges filed after leader's
Herb Friedenthal, Carpenters Local 971 was arrested
for handing out leaflets at Reno's Park Lane Mall (click photo
RENO (U-News) - Carpenters Union members began
picketing Park Lane Mall at noon December 5. On November 26,
Carpenters Local 971 senior business representative Herb Friedenthal
was arrested by Reno police after shopping center management
complained about the union passing out flyers criticizing low
wages at the Syufy/Century theater under construction at the
Reno shopping center.
On Dec. 2, union attorneys filed charges of illegal
unfair labor practices against Park Lane with the National Labor
Relations Board. The union complaint states that Park Lane "caused
the arrest of union agent Herb Friedenthal for engaging in union
solicitation activity while permitting other kinds of solicitation
at the mall."
"Park Lane allows access to other community
non-profit groups and therefore cannot legally restrict worker
organizations," Friedenthal stated. Union members are targeting
Tedesco Construction, which is building Syufy's new 16-screen
movie complex at the Reno shopping center. Tedesco has played
a major role in construction of the downtown Sparks Syufy/Century
project which has also been a focus of worker protest since last
"Tedesco pays carpenters $10 to $14 an hour.
Union carpenters make $20.50 plus benefits," Friedenthal
said. "The payment of substandard wages not only diminishes
the working person's ability to purchase with earned, rather
than borrowed, dollars, but it also undercuts the wage standards
for the entire area," he added.
"Most people don't realize it, but every
worker's pay is pegged to the benchmarks earned by the skilled
trades," Friedenthal asserted. "Higher pay causes a
ripple effect throughout a community, just like a rising tide
raises all boats. In the same manner, lower wages sink everyone
else's pay," he noted.*
"Century reaps large profits at the expense
of Reno'sunderpaid workforce. We seek support from the general
public and the more than 40,000 union members and their families
in northern Nevada. We ask them not to patronize Century Theaters
until the company promises that all construction will be done
using contractors who pay their employees fair wages and fringe
benefits," Friedenthal said.
He noted that the workers are not asking customers
to refrain from patronizing Park Lane Mall. "We just want
to inform moviegoers of Syufy/Century's continuing practice of
paying low wages in Reno, just as they have been doing at their
downtown Sparks theater construction project," Friedenthal
* For a full discussion of what's known as the
union wage effect, see "What Do Unions Do?" by Harvard
University professors Medoff and Freeman, available through any
bookstore or library.
Friedenthal vindicated, Park Lane guilty
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September 8, 1997
Sparks to lose $1 million from theater construction
Labor leaders call for timely performance or
payment to taxpayers; Money could go toward parks and police.
SPARKS, Nevada (U-News)Sparks stands to lose
$1 million in cash if it lets Syufy/Century Theatres further
delay the opening of the new downtown 14-plex. "The agreement
between Sparks and Syufy-Century theaters is quite specific.
If the theater complex does not open by February 25, Syufy Enterprises
owes the taxpayers $1 million," stated Richard "Skip"
Daly of Laborers Union Local 169.
"The money sits in escrow. The city should
move to recapture it as partial reimbursement to taxpayers for
generous subsidies already granted to the developer," Daly
added. The redevelopment contract between the city and Syufy
states "if the developer does not timely fulfill all of
its obligations under this agreement...or does not open the theater
for business as provided...then the deposit shall be forfeited
to the city."
In a July 25 letter to the Building and Construction
Trades Council of Northern Nevada, Sparks deputy city manager
Bill Isaeff wrote "the purpose of the good faith deposit
was to insure timely performance by Syufy of its obligations
to acquire the site and construct and open the theater. If it
meets its obligations, the money is refunded," Isaeff wrote.
"If it fails, the money is forfeited to the
City of Sparks and the (city's redevelopment) agency," the
longtime governmental attorney concluded.
"Syufy originally said their goal was to
open by Thanksgiving. That has now been pushed back to Cinco
de Mayo, or possibly later," Daly stated. "Last week,
Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin said 'I think we will get it (Reno's
theater) open before anybody else's.' The Syufy chain started
looking for scapegoats in August and chose organized labor as
a convenient target," Daly said.
"Even Sparks city manager Terry Reynolds
disagreed with that subterfuge, blaming the developer's own design
problems," Daly said.
"The real question is who's running Sparks?
Will the city hold the developer to its word, or just roll over
again? The contract is clear. If the city grants a delay, it
announces that Syufy can do whatever it pleases with the huge
taxpayer subsidy and cheap land already obtained," Daly
"None of the contractual triggers allowing
an extension has occurred," Daly noted. "We've seen
no strike, riot or earthquake. Syufy's mismanagement and change
of architects resulted in this delay. While we think using better
skilled and better paid local workers would certainly have expedited
matters, Syufy's own bungling of the project resulted in the
current move to ask the city for an extension," the lifelong
Sparks resident stated.
"The contract says 'notice by the party claiming
such an extension shall be sent to the other party within 30
calendar days of the commencement of the cause.' We know of no
such request having been received, but Mr. Reynolds has already
defended its approval. At the council meeting of August 25, he
said the submission would be made 'as soon as we have time to
go forward and draft the request,'" Daly added.
"On that day, Mr. Reynolds tried to spin
the $1 million as 'a performance bond, not a penalty bond.' He
needs to go back and read his contract," Daly said.
"This major movie chain received a huge subsidy
from the taxpayers to build the theaters. Every day of delay
represents additional waste of taxpayer expenditures with no
benefit to the city. The $1 million could be used for parks and
police or, if necessary, to take over and finish the theater
project," Daly said.
"If city government fails to enforce its
rights to protect the taxpayers' investment, then it renders
the contractual guarantees meaningless, a cruel hoax perpetrated
upon the public purse. Performance penalties are built into many
public agreements, with road construction the most prominent
example. Only Syufy benefits from delays, allowing them to avoid
overtime and other costs of doing what they committed to do.
Meanwhile, the taxpayers take more hits.
"Every rollback means lower property and
sales tax receipts. Worse, the lack of prompt completion means
that downtown Sparks businesses, which have been hanging by their
fingernails for years, will continue biting them a little longer.
The contract is clear. The council should stand up for its taxpayers'
investment and, for once, not roll over for more corporate welfare.
"Sparks residents should call city hall at (775) 353-2311
to oppose making the public pay more for this developer's inefficiency,"
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