On Friday, mental and behavioral health service workers in Nevada became the second group of public employees to file with the state for collective bargaining recognition as members of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The group includes developmental support technicians, certified nursing assistants, mental health technicians, child care workers, pharmacy technicians and related jobs.
“Workplace safety is a top priority for health care workers in Nevada as well as across the country,” said Ken Edmonds, a certified developmental support tech at Desert Regional Center. “That’s why healthcare workers have come together as ASFME to ensure our collective voice is heard by our employer when it comes to safety on the job without sacrificing the quality of care that we provide.”
The filing comes after bill extending collective bargaining rights to more than 20,000 state workers was signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak late during the last legislative session. The original bill was amended to give the governor the authority to effectively veto negotiated pay increases settled through arbitration if the governor determines the state doesn’t have enough money.
Still, supporters argue the bill will go far to give state employees the ability to bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions. Some state employees in the mental health system have complained there is a lack of recourse when faced with unsafe work conditions and retaliatory actions.
“Over the years our employer has taken steps that has made our work more dangerous,” said Edmonds. “Staff has little say in policy changes that affect our safety on the job or how we provide care to some of the most vulnerable communities in Nevada.”
The group now joins Nevada’s prison guards who were the first to file with the state for recognition as members of AFSCME.