Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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2020 Vision:

Labor leader: Unions will flourish after recovery from recession

Union boss: D. Taylor is the Culinary Union's local leader and chief bargainer.

Union boss: D. Taylor is the Culinary Union's local leader and chief bargainer.

I’m a very optimistic person. I think Las Vegas will come back, but not with the kind of growth we’ve had over the past 20 years.

In any place that has steroid growth you ultimately have to adapt to a more realistic growth pattern, and frankly you get real muscle. You’re not as bloated and you’re more efficient. I think that will happen here. Any time you get tested and go through hard times, you are much stronger for it. Las Vegas has proved it can reinvent itself and face the challenges.

For a lot of people, Las Vegas lost its value. It needs to get that back. The city also has to be viewed as a destination for all people. It has to figure out how we expand and appeal to broader segments of the population. This country is becoming much more multicultural and much more diverse. How do we fill each and every one of those niches? How do we reflect the workers who are here now?

Chicago and San Francisco service a wide range of visitors. I think Las Vegas has to be like any other major tourist city that allows for different markets to be comfortable. We have the most incredible hotel and restaurant concentration in the world. In urban terms, we have to figure out better mixed use.

As a community, we have to take a deep breath and say what we want to be. Being a city people talk about, we have to put our finances into upgrading the educational system in this state. That allows people to have enormous opportunity. That’s part of the American dream. If we don’t do that we will always be someone who does not quite reach his potential. The idea that you can have a thriving, healthy community with a school system that is at the bottom of every list is ludicrous.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to pay for it and it needs to be transparent. The elected bodies have been unwilling to have that kind of discussion. They’ve avoided those difficult conversations. We’re not going to have another 20 years of steroid growth. Now is the time to have those conversations. We’re in a crisis here: health, education, transportation, fire and police. If you want those things, elected leaders need to say, “Here’s how much it costs and here’s how we get there.”

In 2020, this town will be more unionized. Organizing will rebound. Our members will have the potential to grow. The question of going union has been enhanced by the recession. People who have unions have been appreciative. Some of the people who have gotten whacked in this economy, it’s been done indiscriminately. The Culinary has helped people maintain health insurance, offered workshops on foreclosures and given food baskets to folks who wouldn’t be able to afford a Christmas dinner. We’ve also been extremely involved with on-the-job issues.

People will have the opportunity to get a little piece of the Las Vegas dream.

D. Taylor is secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union.

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