Submitted by jon.ralston on Tue, 12/11/2012 - 15:05
On the same day that thousands protested the end of labor as we know it in Michigan, the largest, thriving union in a right-to-work state celebrated the ascendancy of its first female and Hispanic leader.
As Michigan is poised to become the countryís 24th right-to-work state (unions can't force new employees to pay dues), itís worth remembering just how potent labor is here in Nevada, despite the 60-year-old law on the books here. With an invaluable assist from ex-state Archivist Guy Rocha, I wondered just how a state that became right to work by a narrow margin in 1952 could be the same one where labor is celebrating unprecedented political influence in 2012 and its largest member today announced the election of Nicaraguan refugee and former housekeeper Geoconda Arguello-Kline as its new leader.
What seems incongruous is easily explained, along with some fascinating history that shows right-to-work seeds were planted in Reno in the middle of the last millennium and while taking root in northern Nevada, the anti-labor sentiment never flowered in the South because of accommodationist employers who have run joints along what in 1952 was a dusty boulevard with only Bugsy Siegelís place of note.
The history here is fascinating, as Rocha, a Culinary member himself from way back, showed me.