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A brief history of CWA 9413
By Andrew Barbano, member
Prepared in August 2012

Nevada's oldest union shows no signs of aging

Since mining was Nevada's first major industry, it stands to reason that mine workers established the first unions in Nevada.

You can win bar bets with anybody who takes that erroneous position.

The Gold Hill Miners Union was indeed the first mining union in Nevada, established on December 8, 1866.

A newspaper union preceded the miners by three years.

Samuel Clemens, who later became world famous as Mark Twain, wrote in "Roughing It" that in all of his travels, he always joined the union at whatever newspaper hired him.

The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859 saw the founding of the legendary Territorial Enterprise in the same year.

Clemens first wrote under the name Mark Twain at the Enterprise in 1863. The International Typographical Union chartered Washoe Typographical Union Local 65 on June 28, 1863, more than a year before Nevada became a state.

Local 65 was the forerunner of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, making Local 9413 the longest established union in Nevada.

State law requires the union label on state-produced printing and Local 9413 still represents state printshop employees.

No matter how technology has changed over three centuries, the union has grown and changed with the times.

Communications systems are hardwired into Local 9413 DNA: AT&T; CC Communications (the Churchill County cable system); St. Mary's Regional Medical Center clerical and non-medical staff; southern Nevada public safety and law enforcement personnel.

All depend on communications in order to function in their work and their union works to make their labor more productive.

CWA 9413 even brought Reno's Ioannis A. Lougaris Veterans Medical Center into the modern age. Like all VA hospitals, Reno's aging facility had never been wired for bedside telephone service.

Patients needing to make or take calls would either have to walk to a pay phone down the hall or wait until hospital staff could roll a large phone console to their bedsides.

Frank Dosio of CWA Local 1120 in Hudson Valley, New York, changed all that with the now-legendary program dubbed PT Phone Home. ("PT" is the medical abbreviation for "patient.")

The first hospital was wired on July 4, 1990. In October, 1992, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that it would take approximately 15 to 19 years to implement bedside telephone service. 

The Veterans Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives estimated that the cost would total $180 to $220 million.

All 172 V.A. hospitals were wired in only four years, completed at a cost of about $30 million, saving a huge amount of taxpayer money.

Local 9413, working with AT&T and the Telephone Pioneers, made Reno's facility among the first in the nation to participate in PT Phone Home.

The union today enjoys its largest membership ever, representing more than 1,500 public safety and law enforcement personnel in southern Nevada and more than 1,100 workers in northern Nevada.

The oldest union in Nevada shows no signs of aging.

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