Labor Day is known for many events — sales, camping, school starting back up, Burning Man and the Rib Cook-Off. One that is too often overlooked is labor. Mike Pilcher, president of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council (NNCLC), says it’s past time to put the labor back into Labor Day.
For many years, NNCLC participated in the Labor Day parade in Virginia City. This year, they decided to throw a party for the American worker instead.
“Instead of a parade, we’re holding a festival,” Pilcher says. “We’re celebrating the spirit of productivity and hard work and the working class.” Reno LaborFest is happening at Idlewild Park on Monday, September 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes food trucks, live music, beer garden and a kids zone, complete with climbing wall and cornhole games. Perhaps most importantly, there will be dozens of union employers on-site, sharing information on available jobs and the qualifications necessary for them.
“If you’re on the edge of a job change or you don’t have one yet, this is a really good time to come and look at what is available in this community,” Pilcher says. “There are many union employers in our community, including NV Energy and Waste Management, who are seeking quality employees for good-paying jobs with benefits.”
“These are just a few of the union employers in our community and we appreciate all of them,” Pilcher says. “They know how the union helps them attract and retain quality employees and also how to get input from them, which helps everyone do a better job.”
Reno LaborFest will also offer apprenticeship information, for high school grads and others who might be seeking new opportunities. “People who aren’t interested in a traditional college track can get an apprenticeship, learn skills and end up with a good-paying job with benefits and stability,” Pilcher says. “It’s the four year degree without the debt as you earn while you learn.”
There has been a shortage of workers in the skilled trades for many years, which creates an opportunity for people interested in that area. “If you want to work with your back and your brains and your hands, we’ve got a job for you,” Pilcher says, adding that once someone becomes a journeyman their job is portable and they can work anywhere.
Participating organizations and businesses include:
NV Energy, AT&T, UPS, Washoe County, Washoe County School District, City of Reno, Washoe Education Association, Women Build Nevada, BT Dev Corp, UA 350, Laborers Local 169, IUPAT 567, IBEW 401, OE3, National Tile & Stone, Waste Management, Reno Musicians Union Local 368, Insulators Local 16, NALC 709, RTC Washoe, Teamsters 533, AFGE 2152, IBEW 1245, Bricklayers, OPCMIA 797, Iron Workers 118, OE Federal Credit Union, Martin Iron Works, MTM Transit (RTC Access), Tahoe Transportation District, Keolis, IAFF 731, Helmets to Hardhats, SNCLC, Road Sprinkler Fitters 669, RHP, Red Cedar Steel, APWU, UAW 2162, Corona Steel, Corona Stud & Deck and IUEC Local 8.
A brief history of Labor Day
According to the U.S. Department of Labor: the holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
In 1903, Governor John Sparks issued a proclamation that declared Labor Day a holiday in the state of Nevada and the first parade was held that year. By the time the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 making it a federal holiday, 25 states had already declared it. Governor Kenny Guinn delivered another proclamation in 2003, celebrating the holiday’s Golden Jubilee (100 years) in the state of Nevada. “Today labor matters more than ever,” Pilcher says. “When you look at the gross inequalities in our nation, organized labor is the answer to that. The union helps people raise a family without so much financial stress. We’re a big part of raising the standard of living and improving the community.”
A few more things to know about Reno LaborFest RTC is offering free shuttle services from free parking at the downtown Court parking lot at Virginia and Court Streets. “We encourage people to use the shuttle service or to ride their
bikes as parking is tight,” Pilcher says. They’re also looking for volunteers to stay afterward and help clean up the park. “We want to leave Idlewild better than we found it,” Pilcher says. This event is made possible through the support of these and other generous sponsors: NV Energy Foundation; Plumbers, Pipefitters & Service Techs Local 350; Laborers Local 169; Northern Nevada Building Trades; IUPAT Local 567; IBEW Local 401; OE3; National Tile & Stone and Waste Management.
For more information, visit www.RenoLaborFest.org.
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