Labor Day 2001: Fathers & sons and life's harsh transitions


Expanded from the 9-2-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

I've written a lot of Labor Day columns over the years. With the exception of noting the death of United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez, I can't recall any obituaries, let alone several. This year's an exception.

So take a moment as we remember some lost workers, all who died so very tragically young.

JEFFREY DAVID COONEY, 28, died Friday from leukemia at his Sparks home. I hadn't seen him since he was a neat little 12 year-old kid when he attended Glenn Duncan Elementary School with my son. I was invited to speak to their class in 1984, a day that still ranks as one of the highlights of my life.

Jeff was a member of the Mighty Mites Boxing Club when his New Jersey cousin, Jerry Cooney, was the number one heavyweight boxing contender in the world. He got to sit with his famous relative when Big Jerry attended matches in Reno. My wife and I were in attendance on one of those occasions.

Jeff went on to graduate from Traner Middle School and Hug High. He worked at United Parcel Service, where he became a member of Teamsters Union Local 533.

His memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow at Little Flower Catholic Church at Kietzke and Plumb in Reno. Contributions to his memorial fund, account number 132-383-3341, may be made at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

JOHN C. BOHACH, 35, was gunned down in the line of duty in Reno on August 22. Nevada still mourns the beloved husband, father and Reno police officer.

AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, 37. A Gardnerville, Nevada, construction worker was killed at 6:05 last Friday morning as he crossed Interstate 80 just over the state line near Floriston, Calif. The Placer County Sheriff's Office told me at presstime that they are having trouble notifying his next of kin and thus could not release his name. He worked for Fontana Steel of Stockton, Calif. It appears accidental, although the investigation remains open. No arrest has been made and no citation has been issued.

RAYMOND ERIC BAUER, 39, was killed last Tuesday at a Gardnerville construction site when he fell or jumped from a forklift.

"According to witnesses, Bauer was operating a forklift that was equipped with an aerial bucket at the end of a boom while negotiating an incline," the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

"Witnesses said Bauer tried to jump when the forklift started to topple over but he was held in the bucket by a harness. The railing of the aerial bucket slammed into his head when he hit the ground," the report continued.

"Bauer was hired through Labor Ready in Sparks, a temporary employee agency, to work for M.C. Neuffer Co., according to Capt. Terry Taylor of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District (which) responded to a call at the Job’s Peak Ranch Estates construction site in southwest Carson Valley. Officials at M.C. Neuffer could not be reached and Labor Ready personnel declined to comment. Bauer listed no doctor, no permanent address in Nevada and no next of kin," the RGJ stated.

"'Riding the boom can put you in a bad place where your center of gravity is concerned,' Taylor said, adding that 'Those things are designed to hold two flats of sheetrock, and they’re bouncy without the weight.'"

What in God's name was an apparently underskilled temp doing operating complex heavy equipment?

More later as investigations of these fatalities continues.

PATCHWORK TEMPS. Members of the Painters Union will be out in force on Saturday, Sept. 8, as part of their international union's PATCH Day. "PATCH" stands for "Painters and Allied Trades for Children's Hope." All funds collected go to literacy programs.

On PATCH Day, local union members, their friends and families take to the streets requesting donations from passing motorists to fight illiteracy.

To volunteer or find out where union members will be working, call Todd Koch at Painters Local 567 in Sparks at (775) 356-8567.

I highly doubt that they'll gather at the state casual labor office on Galletti Way. If so, I'll bring my cameras after personally notifying Sparks City Atty. Chet Adams, the Alliance for Workers Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU. The city says it's illegal to solicit honest work on public sidewalks, lumping humble day laborers with prostitutes. I thus can't imagine it allowing mere citizens to solicit money to teach kids to read. (At least hookers can work without hassle in rural boutiques and urban hotel-casinos. Don't know about weekly rentals or timeshares, see below.)

FITZGERALD'S FLOP HOUSE? Fitzgerald's Hotel-Casino in downtown Reno is being converted to weekly timeshares like the nearby Colonial Motor Lodge. Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin was recently quoted as saying that the city would be better off if the Comstock Hotel burned down. The former hotel-casino recently became a weekly rental facility. If anyone over at the Firefighters Union runs into Hizzoner, please ask if he wants Fitzgerald's to burn down, too. (Whaddya expect from a guy who called homeless people "human debris"?)

BETTER THAN BURNING MAN. Sparks-Reno casinos have always licked their chops as thousands of middle class hippies bypass the clubs to party at the annual Burning Man paganfest on the Black Rock Desert. With Mayor Griffin's help, maybe they can bring in Smokey the Bear for a controlled burn to turn those fading hotels into the biggest burning man in history. If Vegas can sell fake miniatures of every major worldwide attraction, Reno should be able to market a bigger version of the real thing.

CYBERLABOR. Last week, NevadaLabor.com came up number two among 9,600 international labor Internet sites on a Yahoo.com general web search (without Nevada as a keyword, even!). We're number one for complete local, regional and national Labor Day coverage, including news, photos and inside info from the Nevada State AFL-CIO's unpublicized surprise demonstration at Washoe Medical Center; the latest on the Washoe Med-like privatization of Carson-Tahoe Hospital; the combined $100 million+ publicly-subsidized financing scheme in the pipeline for both hospitals (see the Health Care War Room); the new national initiative against Wal-Mart, with heavy roots right here in River City and much more.

Say Kaddish or sing Psalms for those workers and their families. And be careful out there.

Be well. Raise hell.

NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988 .

Site maintained by Deciding Factors (CWA signatory)
Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins.