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First jobs of some Las Vegas leaders: A Labor Day look at work experience

Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union

“My first job was when I was 15 years old. I went to work as a busboy in the Sands Hotel in the Garden Room coffee shop,” says the leader of Southern Nevada’s most powerful union. “Back then, your parents could sign a permission form to work before you were 16. I got that job because I was eager to save up money for a car. I couldn’t wait to drive to high school and impress all of my friends.”

“I remember that the head hostesses in the coffee shop would run the shop floor. They made the schedules, did the interviews, and the hiring — it was quite a different time. Because the Sands was unionized, this job also gave me my first experience with the Culinary Union and what it meant to be a union member in Las Vegas,” Pappageorge said.

“After my first month working as a busboy, I was able to save up $500. My uncle Joe, who was visiting from back East, took me to buy a 1965 Mustang out of a “Nifty Nickel” paper ad for $500. The car had a blue racing stripe down the middle, the passenger door didn’t work, and the driver’s door had a dent in it. When we got home we took a 2×4 and a sledgehammer and we banged out the dent so I could open the driver’s door to drive it. It took a lot of work and a few more checks to make the car look good, but it was totally worth it when I pulled up to school in the car,” he said.

“I learned a few lessons from my first union job: When you work in the hospitality industry in Las Vegas, you better learn to move your butt or you wouldn’t make it. I also learned about the Culinary Union and the importance of being a union member. When you are part of a union you are able to have job security, the best health care, a pension so you can retire with dignity, and so much more thanks to a union contract,” Pappageorge said. “These lessons showed me what real leaders look like, why it’s important to be involved in my community, and contributed to the leader that I am today.”

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