Jack Schaefer

Jack Schaefer, a respected labor negotiator in Las Vegas, president of the Nevada Contractors Association and a board member of several union trusts and apprenticeship programs, died on April 15 in that city. He was 64 and had pancreatic cancer, according to the association.

After a Denver-based marketing career, Schaefer became labor relations director in 1990 for the Associated General Contractors chapter in Las Vegas. He left five years later in a leadership rift and launched NCA, a rival trade group that represents contractors that are union-only. AGC represents both union and non-union companies. “At the time, AGC was promoting non-union guys, but it was the revenue generated from the union contractors that supported the group. We were funding our competition,” says Howdy Wells, chairman of Cargo Construction. “Jack could talk to any of the unions, and they believed him.”

Schaefer, who held various executive positions in NCA, grew it to represent more than 200 members, including many of the area's largest builders: Marnell Corrao Associates, Perini Building Co. and McCarthy Building Cos., among others. He also was the brother of U.S. Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), who served from 1983 to 1999. Dan Schaefer died in 2006 at age 70.

Jack Schaefer was instrumental in negotiating and establishing wages and working conditions for southern Nevada construction unions on public works and casino projects. “The unions sought out [NCA] to negotiate labor contracts due to Jack's relationships,” says Rick Ewing, chief union negotiator for Las Vegas Paving Corp. “His knowledge and understanding of labor law and calm objectivity helped strengthen relations between labor and management.” Adds Marc Furman, senior administrative assistant for the Southwest regional council of carpenters, “Jack was a past trustee on our health pension plan. He was a straight shooter, and we had a long-term relationship with him.”