Meet Our 2018 Labor Candidates: Jack Mallory, Board of Regents District 1

Fast Facts:

Jack’s extensive background in the skilled workforce includes time as a machinist’s mate in the U.S. Navy.
Jack has spent countless hours in Carson City, lobbying the legislature on behalf of labor.
When he was a child, Jack’s family lived on social assistance for a number of years before working their way out of the poverty cycle.

When we think about elections, what comes to mind for most of us are high-visibility seats like president, governor, mayor, senator, and House representative. Those positions are critical in state and national politics, to be sure—but the legislative engine of any state is started in bodies of government rarely seen in the spotlight, like local assemblies, boards, and commissions. 

This is certainly true for the Board of Regents, the body responsible for policy that governs a state’s higher education system and its institutions. In Nevada, 13 Regents govern the Nevada System of Higher Education and its eight institutions: University of Nevada, Reno; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; College of Southern Nevada; Nevada State College; Truckee Meadows Community College; Great Basin College; Western Nevada College; and the Desert Research Institute. 

The Nevada State AFL-CIO believes strongly that education (its availability, accessibility, affordability, relevance to regional needs, funding, and quality) is the root of economic prosperity, and that means that every Regent on the Board of Regents is important to our values. Each of these legislators is responsible for representing the needs of his/her district, and play a critical role in the educational policies of our state. 

Former IUPAT foreman Jack Mallory understands the weight of this responsibility, and its relationship to and impact on labor issues and the skilled workforce in Nevada.

After a brief stint as a machinist’s mate in the Navy, Jack was accepted into an apprenticeship program for drywall finishing, painting, and decorating. He moved through the ranks of apprentice, journeyman, then foreman before hanging up his tools to take on government affairs for IUPAT District Council 15, and the role of trustee for the Finishing Trades Institute of the Southwest. For more than 15 years, Jack—who also earned his B.A. in Union Administration from National Labor College—has been developing policies and programs, negotiating contracts, administering disputes, and advocating for working men and women in Nevada. His next move? A seat on the Nevada Board of Regents, representing District 1 in Clark County.

Jack Mallory’s experience and commitment to labor in Nevada is clear. But what, exactly, does he want to accomplish as a Regent in Nevada? We caught up with him to ask.

Your experience in labor, from apprenticeship to administration, is extensive. How do you feel a seat on the Board of Regents will help you continue to fight for the working men and women of Nevada?

A Board of Regents touches every aspect of society, because education touches every aspect of society. Economic development creates trade jobs, and education plays a major role in economic development. In tech, in the trades, in other sectors—so much depends on or is connected to education. 

But there are a lot of people who aren’t necessarily interested in going the traditional college route, and this seems to be becoming more true. So there’s an opportunity to create occupational and vocational programs to give students more options, like certificate programs that can help prepare them for jobs like the ones coming to our area in the near future. And we need to make those programs affordable. 

If elected, what’s your first priority as a Regent?

My first priority is to bring all the stakeholders together—including labor, government, and business leaders—to identify the needs of our region and to create programs to address those needs, and to think ahead to what we’ll need down the road. 

I also want to examine our policies in higher education, especially those that can create economic hardships on our students, like policies around transfer credits. And to look further into the potential for online education, because I think there’s untapped opportunity there, like the option to take most or all core requirements online, making them more accessible. Las Vegas is a 24-hour town, and many of our workers have schedules that just don’t work with a traditional education model. 

Meanwhile, 22% of the students who do enroll at UNLV arrive deficient in some basic areas, and end up having to be enrolled in remedial classes, which also raises costs for them. So it’s important to me to partner with school districts and community colleges, and even other universities, to get intervention at an earlier stage. I’d like students to have opportunities to take the relevant coursework they need to help overcome those deficiencies, so when they do arrive at college, they’re ready for college. 

You’re a big advocate of technical and career education. Why do you think those are so important in Nevada?

First, it’s my passion. It’s where I come from. But even more importantly, most of the jobs that are coming to Nevada don’t require a traditional four-year degree, but rather education or certification in a specific skill set. The jobs that are coming are in manufacturing and technical industries and construction. We’re trying to attract more and more of these, but one of the things these businesses are going to be looking for is the quality and quantity of the skilled workforce, and the quality and availability of the related education.

Of course a university education becomes more important as workers look to move up in their organizations. But that becomes easier when you’re working and earning a paycheck and have benefits, as long as those accessibility issues are addressed. 

What’s the most important thing that Nevada’s organized working men and women should know about your plans as a Regent?

That I want to hear from them. Everyone should have a seat at the table. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To learn more about Jack Mallory, visit his campaign website at mallory4nv.net.