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Teamsters training center seen to alleviate worker shortage

Two generations of Southern Nevada Teamsters watched as apprentices drove forklifts around the union’s new training facility in North Las Vegas.

Crystal VanDyke, the apprenticeship coordinator overseeing the relocation into the 70,000-square-foot building, envisioned a mock exhibit floor that will teach the next generation of convention workers.

Her father, Les Slaughter, a retired studio driver who joined the labor union in 1973, saw how much has changed since he was coming up in the union.

“Training today is a necessity,” Slaughter said. “I wish I’d had this building.”

VanDyke wants the training center to put to rest questions of how the Las Vegas Valley will supply enough workers for major construction projects like the Raiders stadium.

She also wants the center to set the standard nationwide on how to train convention decorators, designers, repairers and equipment operators.

The local Teamsters branch, which has about 4,500 members, has already provided training advice for its counterparts in Boston and other cities. The local branch’s former training center was about 32,000 square feet.

When the training center is finished in January, VanDyke wants to make other branches aware of its capabilities.

“This is a huge investment from the Teamsters,” she said. “We were busting at the seams.”

In October, North Las Vegas issued construction permits that detail about $1.5 million worth of work at the new center near the intersection of Lamb Boulevard and Interstate 15.

The Teamsters share a building with online retailer Fanatics’ recently opened distribution center.

The union is already holding forklift classes in the building, with classes for rigging scheduled for later in the year. VanDyke expects a shop for exhibit building and areas dedicated to graphics practice and heavy rigging.

While construction in the valley is cyclical and took a major downturn in the recession, conventions have grown to a year-round schedule, VanDyke said. Conventions also continue to grow in size of attendance and size of spectacle.

“And now we’ve got the training center to handle it,” she said.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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