200 protest jobs going to out-of-state workers
Associated Press Writer
RENO – About 200 people, many of them unemployed, joined a protest in Reno over what they call an “epidemic” of jobs in economically troubled Nevada going to out-of-state companies and workers.
Demonstrators marched Thursday about a mile from downtown to the University of Nevada-Reno campus. Speakers at a rally there criticized the university, saying two major campus projects involve workers from Arizona, California and Utah.
They also cited about a dozen other public and private construction projects in northern Nevada that they say involve out-of-state contractors, subcontractors and workers.
Protesters waved placards saying “Why are Nevada’s tax dollars going to Arizona’s economy?” and “Local jobs for local workers – There is no recovery until we work.”
The event was organized by leaders of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada/AFL-CIO, who noted Nevada’s record 13.4 percent jobless rate is second highest in the nation behind’s Michigan’s 14.1 percent and is well above the 9.9 percent national rate. The state has lost 26,000 construction jobs over the past year.
“The volume of Nevada construction work going to out-of-staters has reached epidemic proportions,” said Paul McKenzie, the group’s executive secretary. “These projects may help with the economic recovery of many other states, but we think Nevada jobs should go to Nevada workers.”
UNR officials said the five largest, recent campus projects were all awarded to Nevada-based contractors.
“We are very sympathetic to the economic challenges facing the construction industry. … Recent construction projects on campus have provided more than a thousand local construction jobs,” said Ron Zurek, UNR’s vice president of finance and administration.
Zurek said he expects about 85 percent of the subcontractor work on the project to be performed by local subcontractors and that Sundt also will hire local workers.