Workin’ through Labor Day |

Workin’ through Labor Day

Some may think it’s ironic the vast majority of South Lake Tahoe employees work on the day of rest established to honor our nation’s labor force.

But this fact of life is reflective of a service-oriented economy driven by tourism, said Mike Henriques, manager of the California Employment Development Department located in Meyers.

Still, with a sputtering national and northern Californian economy, the South Shore has held its own, Henriques declared.

“In the last few years, the economy is the best I’ve seen in the 22 years since I’ve been here,” the employment expert said, adding a strong real estate and construction market as part of the equation.

There’s been some tipping of the scales along the way.

Marriott’s hotel construction going on in the redevelopment path has somewhat served to offset the dips in employment like those caused by Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s high-profile buyout of Harveys a month ago.

Comings and goings seem to be a part of life for South Lake Tahoe workers.

In most years for example, the two casinos fluctuate their workforce because of seasonal changes and normal attrition by hundreds of staffers on both sides of the street, Harrah’s spokesman John Packer confirmed.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys Casino Resort can expect to lose about 170 and 280 seasonal employees by mid-October, respectively, Packer reported. The workers are comprised of college students, international workers and even teachers working over the summer.

“The business volume falls off after the (Labor Day) holiday,” he said.

Despite Labor Day’s long-held title as the last weekend of the summer, many businesses choose to hold off on severe cutbacks in staff going into the shoulder season until later, if at all.

Zephyr Cove Resort needs to keep its labor force through most of September. The international workers it hires offer that commitment. By November, the resort will lose about 30 percent of its workforce.

“We do a lot of seasonal staffing. We need those employees who can stay through Sept. 20,” Director of Marketing Bill Chernock said.

What one resort loses, another gains.

Heavenly Ski Resort has already started hiring for the winter season, with its Web site taking hits from 100 people a day, spokeswoman Monica Bandows said. The fever pitch will occur in November. At its peak, Heavenly employs about 1,600 people, with 250 to 300 working year-round.

On the opposite side of town, Kmart keeps most of its staffers to cater to permanent residents, with the exception of a dozen college students working there this summer. They left a month ago.

“Our business doesn’t drop off that much in September,” said Bob Perry, Kmart’s new store manager.

Safeway Store Manager Bob Vukobradovich said it’s too early to tell how much of its workforce the supermarket plans to reduce next month. He expects fewer hours for some employees after Labor Day.

“It’s what happens every year,” he said.

Labor Day was enacted as a legal holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1894 in honor of the working class.

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