Labors of Love
Expanded from the 9-2-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Updated 9-3, 9-21-2007, 2-21-2008

Labor Day – don't say that!

Can't they come up with a better name for a party weekend? Who wants to think about work?

Perhaps the Washoe Med/Renown nurses who are being squeezed by their corporate bosses. Likewise, the Grand Sierra hotel and casino workers.

The Pollyannas need not worry. The transition began a decade ago with the wholesale cancellation of network TV appearances by labor leaders eager for their one chance a year to talk workplace issues.

"The typical American family makes about $1,300 a year less, adjusted for inflation, than it did in 2000."

—David Moberg
McClatchy News Service
Reno Gazette-Journal, 9-3-2007


In 1997, the U.S. Labor Day became Princess Diana Day. Most of the rest of the world celebrates its workers on May 1, but because them dirty commies celebrated on May Day, we moved it to the end of summer to show we weren't like them.

Perhaps the ramp up to winter was fitting, as what was formerly the land of the free became the home of the wage slave – who hasn't had an inflation-adjusted pay raise since 1973.

Closer to home, Labor Day is also morphing into Hurricane Katrina Day or Burning Man Day. (For a tightly written analysis of the latter, see the current editorial in the Reno News & Review.)

Perhaps Lady Di can be assimilated into one big celebration, just as the fertility goddess of the ancient Incas was transmogrified into the Blessed Virgin Mary without skipping a beat or changing the annual rituals.

For humorists, it’s perfect: Princess Di as a symbol of workers who are royally screwed.

I have written at encyclopedic length for three decades on these issues and built a flagship website for them.

Where can aggrieved workers find hope when just about all the current presidential candidates are controlled by corporate employers eager to outsource jobs to Bangladesh?

Brent Tyler

I find inspiration in the life of the best damned Republican I ever knew.

Brent Eugene Tyler led two lives. For three decades, he was the top gun sales executive for Young Electric Sign Co. in Sparks, builders of the current Reno arch and much of the neon cathedral illuminating urban Nevada.

His was the most affable of personalities which allowed him to get away with saying just about anything. After making a presentation to a shopping center merchants association, he came up with the most entertaining and effective sales close I ever heard: "Okay, now when do I get my hands into your pockets?"

After he left, the shopping center owner smiled and said "all these guys are bandits, but he's by far the best one."

Perhaps his proudest personal labor day came at the opening of the 1991 Nevada State Legislature. As busy YESCO supersalesman Brent Tyler installed last-minute signage on doors and hallways (yes, he won the legislature's business, too), his daughter Stephanie was taking her place as a newly-appointed Republican (of course) member of the state senate.

I knew the political, executive and personal aspects of Brent Tyler and loved them all. He was always the same wise and witty man.

Witness his practical political advice on campaign contributions: Either pay 'em now (with a campaign contribution) or pay later (when the ungreased officeholder won't listen to you). Disclaimer: He contributed to this Democrat's 1984 run for Congress, which I have always considered the highest of compliments.

Brent's lifetime addiction to follytix led to a sideline business that was often more fun than his day job. He was the best political pollster I've ever worked with, often calling elections to within a tenth of a percentage point.

I never let him forget the one time he was wrong. At a business tip club meeting the Monday before the 1975 Sparks city elections, he predicted winners and losers. I dared to disagree with the oracle and asserted that the talk on the street in Sparks grumbled of housecleaning.

"I submit that there are no undecided voters this close to election day," he said, adding that "those who still say they are undecided will break along the lines of those who have already made up their minds." His poll had closed the previous Friday.

This became the one time when the Tyler ruled crashed – largely because an incumbent had just accepted an immunity plea to testify in front of the Washoe County Grand Jury. People in Sparks had heard about it and were spreading the word.

Now you know why I have written for decades that Sparks street talk remains more reliable than any poll.

Those who attend Brent's 11:00 a.m. memorial service this Tuesday at Rancho San Rafael will be treated to a cascade of Brentisms – wisdom and witticism from a remarkable man whose life has left us a great lesson for the future: There is nothing inconsistent with true conservatism and taking care of your fellow human beings.

While conservative by political persuasion, he was liberal of mind – meaning that he was open-minded and not blinded by ideology.

He spent his retirement years working for the poor and oppressed – renters, the mentally ill, those in need of low-cost housing.
He had the sense of humor to see the absurdity in so much of what passes today for public policy. Better, he rolled up his sleeves and did something about it until the day he died last month at age 79.

Remembrances may be e-mailed to me. I will post some of them to the website. His family will send any donations in his name to the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Northern Nevada, an organization he co-founded. Checks may be mailed to 14 Eagle Chase Ct., Henderson, NV 89052.

Before the Tuesday, Sept. 3, memorial, flowers may be delivered to 1240 Curti Dr., Reno, NV 89502, in care of Mrs. Poe. The family will transport them to Rancho San Rafael for the Tuesday remembrance. For further details, please contact Bret Tyler at (775) 342-2930.

I will post many more mischievous memories of my friend Brent.

Stay tuned.

Sue Toland and friends

THANKS TO EVERYONE participating in this weekend's fundraiser for terminal cancer victim Sue Toland.

The yard sale continues today and tomorrow at 2166 Canyon Vista Drive in Sparks (off Los Altos which is off Sparks Blvd.) Map and more info at her website at right.

Checks payable to Sue Toland may be mailed in care of Crystal Springs Water, 901 S. Center Street, Reno, NV 89501.

Happy Labor-Diana-Katrina-Burning-Man-Sue-and-Brent Day.

Be well. Raise hell.





THURSDAY 2-21-2008

Sue Toland passed away this morning at 9:30.
ReSurge.TV for additional information.

Now free from pain, may dear sweet Sue rest in peace.



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Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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