Magazine article Insight on the News

Union on a Roll in Vegas

Magazine article Insight on the News

Union on a Roll in Vegas

Article excerpt

The American labor movement has drawn a line in the sand in the desert boomtown of Las Vegas, throwing its weight behind a multimillion-dollar effort to organize everyone from cocktail waitresses to bricklayers. The AFL-CIO has put unprecedented financial and strategic support into local union efforts at city hotels, casinos, construction sites, grocery stores and hospitals.

"There are really two ways to look at the Las Vegas strategy," says labor consultant Ray Abernathy. "if it can work in Las Vegas, it can work anywhere. Then again, if it doesn't work in Las Vegas, then it won't succeed anywhere else."

Las Vegas has been on a roll in recent years as the strong national economy fueled spending by Americans with a taste for its diversions. With money pouring in, the city has become a prime destination for people looking for work. More than 5,000 people move into Clark County each month, making southern Nevada the third fastest-growing region of the country.

National labor leaders view these new arrivals as the key to the future of American labor. The stakes are huge. Labor analysts say the campaign will test the effectiveness of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney's long-term goal of reversing the decades-long decline in membership, now hovering just below 13 million members. …

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