Northern Nevada Union Leader Robert Benner honored at Virginia Demmler Honor Roll Dinner

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It was an event studded with some of Nevada’s brightest political figures at the Democratic Party of Washoe County’s annual Virginia Demmler Honor Roll Dinner and fundraiser at the Reno Ballroom last night, where Washoe Dems honored three community leaders for their exemplary work on behalf of the Democratic party. The 2018 Virginia Demmler honorees were Nevada State Senator Julia Ratti, Democratic Party of Washoe County Secretary and community advocate Dean Schermerhorn, and Northern Nevada Central Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer, Building Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada Business Representative, and SMART Local 26 President Robert Benner.

Washoe Dems: “As a pillar in the labor community, Benner is heavily involved with several unions. Additionally, he is incredibly involved with the Democratic Party of Washoe County. Specifically he is the Chair of the Business Policy, Employee Rights, Economic Policy, Pay Equity, and Retirement Security committee.” 

Benner and his fellow honorees were welcomed by Nevada gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and Congresswoman and candidate for U.S. Senate Jacky Rosen. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro was the event’s keynote. 

Benner used the spotlight to outline a brief modern history of labor in the U.S. and the wax-and-wane cycle of workers rights, ever-subject to current political climates, and to drive home the message that our country was founded on the principle that government—like unions—should be of the people, for the people, and by the people: 

“We have forgotten where we came from and how we got here. We need to pick  up where we left off: to elect people that are going to fight for workers, fight for small business, and fight for the middle class. We need to make it easier for workers to organize, unite, and move this country in the right  direction—the  direction of representation for all, the direction of prosperity for all, the direction of democracy for all.”

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The Virginia Demmler Honor Roll Dinner honors those whose service to the Democratic party and community honors that of the former Virginia Demmler, a lifelong activist whose work was instrumental to the success of the Democratic Party of Washoe County, where she served as chair and executive director. 

September 27 is Construction Career Day in Northern Nevada

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On September 27, hundreds of Washoe County School District middle- and high school students will pour into the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to spend part of their day exploring careers in the building and construction trades. The event, the third annual Construction Career Day, is hosted by the Nevada Builders Alliance and supported by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada, the Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Coordinator's Association, the Washoe County School District's Signatures and Career and Technical Education program, and the Associated General Contractors of Nevada. The idea: to give local students exposure to an interactive, hands-on experience with the changing, and rapidly-growing, field of construction.

While good old-fashioned construction work is alive and well in Northern Nevada, and on display at Construction Career Day, it's not all hard hats and tool belts. Careers in construction are becoming increasingly high-tech, and these lucky students get the chance to immerse themselves in real-world building scenarios via virtual reality headsets, where they can experience what it's like to actually work a job site. Last year, the welding experience was popular—particularly with young women. 

"The girls really loved the interactive welding exhibit," said Dian VanderWell of the Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Coordinator's Association. "And they're really good at it. Even the guys agreed, women just seem to be naturally better at welding."

Students who find their interest piqued by the exhibits and interactions will have the opportunity to get more information on the vast career options in the industry and how to prepare for them, including applying for well-paid apprenticeship programs right out of high school. 

"Most parents and even some teachers aren't aware that these are high-paid, high-tech, high-demand careers with great advancement paths," said Rob Benner, business representative for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada. "In our plumbing program, as an example, all of our graduating apprentices leave with advanced mechanical and electronic skills, making over $40/hour with full health benefits. There aren't many college graduates earning that even several years after graduation. Even more important, those good wages aren't being undercut by student debt."

In fact, building and construction apprenticeships are one of the few career fields closing the wage gap for women and minorities. Everyone starts an apprenticeship program at the same wage, and wages advance equally throughout the program. After graduation, career options range from instructor to foreman/supervisor to small business owner to developer, even urban planner or civic legislator. Most apprentices graduate from the program with college credits from TMCC, and some with a full associate’s degree.

"I'd say this a no-brainer for kids and parents," said VanderWell, "but it's a big-brainer. This isn't the vo-tech school of yesterday—there's rigorous academic training in math, geometry, technology, communications. The kids who excel in these apprenticeship programs really are set up for a long, lucrative career they can take just about anywhere." ▪

Interested students should contact their teachers or CTE school administrators. Check out the Construction Career Day videos from last year and 2016!

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Ironworkers Local 118 members get up close and personal with local candidates at meet-and-greet BBQ last weekend

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Members of Northern Nevada's Ironworkers Local 118 had a chance to pick the minds of local, labor-endorsed political candidates like Steve Sisolak, Sarah Peters, Aaron Ford, Catherine Byrne, Paul McKenzie, and others last Saturday. For candidates, the meet-up offered a chance to connect more intimately with constituents in the labor community before the three-day 62nd Annual Nevada State AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention began on Sunday, where candidates, elected officials, and state union leaders took to the podium to talk about the issues facing working Nevadans, like living wages, affordable healthcare, and jobs.

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Free Orientation for Reno-Sparks Construction Apprenticeships on August 2nd

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If you've ever thought about a career in the building and construction trades, now is the time to take the next step! Construction is booming in Northern Nevada, and local apprenticeship programs are recruiting men and women who are ready to help us build the new Nevada. Our building and construction apprenticeships are:

  • Earn-while-you-learn. You'll get state-of-the-art training in your field while earning a good wage and gaining valuable experience.
  • Debt-free. Most of our apprenticeship programs are free to participants. No student loans and grant applications required. 
  • Internationally-accredited. After graduation, take your new skills and certifications anywhere!

Join us on Thursday, August 2 from 11am-12pm for a free orientation available construction apprenticeships, including instructions on how to apply immediately. 

Where: Sparks JobConnect, 2281 Pyramid Way in Sparks
When: Thursday, August 2 at 11am
Cost: FREE

Call 775-284-9520 for more information.

"There are opportunities in the unions I didn't expect."

Painter's apprentice Samuel Ortiz talks about why he joined the Painters and Allied Trades Local 567, and where he wants to go from here.

Samuel is just one of hundreds of building and construction apprentices in Northern Nevada being paid to train for a great career. See what some of our other apprentices have to say, and learn more about how you can earn-while-you-learn a new career in the busy and growing construction industry.

Survey technician apprentice Elizabeth Bring: "I'm basically getting paid to become an engineer."

Elizabeth Bring's father was a union lumberjack and her mother was a union truck driver. She joined the apprenticeship program at the Operating Engineers Local 3 in Reno to keep the family tradition of trade union careers (and working outdoors) alive.


It's a great time to build a new career in Nevada's booming construction industry. Are you ready to start building yours today? Learn more about how to get on-the-job training as a building and construction trades apprentice. New classes start throughout the year.

Free info session on construction apprenticeships this Thursday at Sparks JobConnect

If you've ever thought about a career in the building and construction trades, now is the time to take the next step! Construction is booming in Northern Nevada, and local apprenticeship programs are recruiting men and women who are ready to help us build the new Nevada. Our building and construction apprenticeships are:

  • Earn-while-you-learn. You'll get state-of-the-art training in your field while earning a good wage and gaining valuable experience.
  • Debt-free. Most of our apprenticeship programs are free to participants. No student loans and grant applications required. 
  • Internationally-accredited. After graduation, take your new skills and certifications anywhere!

Join us tomorrow, Thursday, June 21 at 11am for a free information session on opportunities in construction apprenticeships, including instructions on how to apply.

Where: Sparks JobConnect, 2281 Pyramid Way in Sparks
When: Thursday, June 21 at 11am
Cost: FREE

Call 775-284-9520 for more information.

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Eldorado Resorts criticized for hiring out-of-state contractor who used unlicensed subcontractors for Circus Circus remodel

Digney York Associates, a Virginia-based remodeling contractor, was cited for hiring unlicensed subcontractors to work on remodeling projects at Circus Circus in Reno. The company had also been cited by OSHA and the Nevada State Board of Contractors for safety violations—at least one of them serious. 

The incident highlights the ongoing rift between Northern Nevada building and construction unions and Eldorado Resorts as it rebrands its three downtown properties into a single mega-resort and entertainment complex called "The Row." 

Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 169 President Eloy La Jara criticized the resort for cutting corners at the expense of public safety, and Russ James, regional director of IUPAT District Council 16, took the resort to task for hiring cheap out-of-state contractors over local, highly-trained skilled labor.

Read more at the Reno Gazette-Journal

Reno's new and improved Traner Pool re-opens this week with help from community

After being out of commission for more than a year while crews repaired and improved equipment damaged last year by vandals, Traner Pool opened to much fan fare (and ice cream) this week. The improvements were made possible with help from a variety of organizations, including a $50,000 donation from the Northern Nevada Building & Construction Trades Council Development Corporation. 

  Members of Reno City Council and members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada present a $50,000 donation for the new Traner Pool on Carville Dr in Reno.

Members of Reno City Council and members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada present a $50,000 donation for the new Traner Pool on Carville Dr in Reno.

Improvements include new signage, more interactive features, accessibility improvements, better lighting, perimeter fencing, and a new security system. 

The Northern Nevada Building & Construction Trades Council Development Corporation owns nearby Carville Park Apartments, a low-income housing complex, and saw the Traner Pool rehabilitation as an opportunity to make an investment in the neighborhood.

"We wanted to help improve the Carville community," says Rob Benner, representative for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada. "This was a great way to give something to the kids in the neighborhood."

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Construction jobs outpace available workforce in Northern Nevada, Washoe County School District aims to help fill gap

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Local apprenticeship programs in building and construction trades are hiring. Learn more!

Like many areas of the country right now, the Truckee Meadows is experiencing an economic resurgence, and with economic recovery comes—inevitably—a booming construction industry. Jobs in the building and construction trades in the Reno-Sparks area are increasing faster than they can be filled, and while local apprenticeship programs are training a new rush of young people for careers in the trades, it's still not enough.

"We're seeing more applicants for our apprenticeship programs, and they're trending younger," says Rob Benner, representative for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada. "We're happy to be attracting a new generation in the construction trades, but we need a lot more of them."

The Washoe County School District's Career and Technical Education (CTE) program plans to help fill those jobs with students trained to take on the challenges of a modernized construction industry. Today, high-level technical skills like digital mapping, 3-d modeling, mathematics, engineering, and even drone operation are in high demand. Internships and future high school construction training programs are among the recent efforts at the WCSD to get students prepared for great careers, and to help fill the near-future demands of the Reno-Sparks workforce, which show no signs of slowing down.

Read more in the Reno Gazette-Journal's May 25 article, "WCSD prepares students for careers in high demand."