AFSCME Members Play Major Role in Small Town Public Services

For over two months Nevadans across the state have been making do with a changing lifestyle due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.  Public service workers have adapted and continue to keep our communities healthy and safe with the services they provide. This is true for larger cities in our state, as well as smaller communities like West Wendover, Nevada.  

Amber Dehn, a wastewater operator and member of AFSCME Local 4041, and her co-workers continue to show up to keep the city’s waste and water services running. A small town along the border of Utah, workers for the city of West Wendover are the main drivers of the town’s public services.  

“When you work in public service for a small town like West Wendover, it really is a team effort to keep all the services going. We often work with each other across departments to ensure that the water is safe and running, that the garbage is picked up on time, and waste is being properly treated,” said Amber.  

City services have remained business as usual, because in this small town, there is no one else who can come in to do the job. Residents rely on public service workers, now more than ever, to keep basic necessities working.  

“This work is already dangerous when working with waste. COVID-19 is another worry because If one of us got sick, who would be left to do the job?” she said.  

In this small town, residents are doing what they can to keep themselves, and their community, safe. In partnership with the city, community members started a food bank has supported elderly, immunocompromised and people in need. AFSCME members like Amber have supported these efforts by driving food out to residents who live miles away from the city center. The city has also come together, with appropriate social distancing, to reimagine local events. A Cinco de Mayo celebration was turned into a parade through town, with people watching from their homes 

West Wendover is also home to a few local casinos, which joined the rest of the resort industry in shutting their doors. Along with the rest of the state, these closures mean a drop in tax revenue that usually would go to supporting schools and other public services.  

Like all the other cities and towns, big or small, public services will face cuts because budgets will be tight as our state recovers from all the closures. That’s why I join AFSCME members across the state to demand the Senate send money to help our state and local governments. These funds will directly impact the quality of our work and lives, especially in small towns. We’ve continued to work during this pandemic and we don’t deserve to be thanked with furloughs or job cuts.” said Amber.