The Power of One


In the case of the dock workers at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the power of one vote made the difference, becoming the deciding factor in a 2011 election for representation by Local 986. For if not for David Whetstone and his last-minute, election-winning ballot, they would not be Teamsters today.

Whetstone, a longtime casino worker suffering from a pancreatic infection, was weak and struggling to stay mobile in the weeks and days leading up to the 2011 vote for Teamster representation.

Although his co-workers urged him to take it easy and relax, Whetstone was determined to make his voice heard.

“He made it to the casino in the 11th hour to cast his ballot in favor of the union,” said Whetstone’s close friend and coworker Matt Lundy. “Dave knew he didn’t have much time left, but he voted so his brothers and sisters on the job could have union representation. His father was a proud Teamster, so he knew how much it meant to have the backing of the union.”

Whetstone appeared, looking defiant and stone-faced as he walked to the polling place, remembers Tony Buckner, a longtime co-worker who was also Whetstone’s brother-in-law.

“They were stunned and had no idea what to do,” Buckner said. “But Dave paid them no mind. He went in to vote and came out minutes later flashing his fingers in a peace sign to all the Teamster supporters outside.”

Shortly after the election, David Whetstone passed away. Although he would not live to see the results of his brave act, his legacy as a model employee who believed strongly in workers’ rights lives on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.

“Dave embodied teamwork and loyalty. He really set the standard for the rest of us,” co-worker George Grubbs said of his former MGM friend and colleague. “Dave worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met; his work ethic was simply incredible.”

Whetstone received several accolades for his work ethic and leadership. But it was his attendance record that received the most attention. According to Nancy Whetstone, David’s wife of over 30 years, “Dave had 12 years without a missed day of work.”

Today, a portrait of Whetstone hangs in the commissary. It is a reminder of the difference one person can make in the workplace.