Nevada state employees win right to bargain collectively

collective bargaining
Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees at a legislative hearing in April. (AFSCME photo.)
collective bargaining
Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees at
a legislative hearing in April. (AFSCME photo.)

In what a state employee organization called “the largest expansion of collective bargaining rights for state workers in 16 years,” Gov. Steve Sisolak Wednesday signed into law legislation to allow state employees to bargain collectively.

The bill made it through the Legislature late in the session, and then only after it 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.

But supporters argued the bill, which expands collective bargaining rights to more than 20,000 employees, was not just about pay, but also about working conditions, job quality, and public safety.

“This is a historic day for state employees and all Nevadans, as collective bargaining rights will mean a voice on the job to make meaningful changes in our workplaces and communities,” said Harry Schiffman, president of AFSCME Local 4041.

“By passing this bill, we are empowering Nevada’s public service workers – corrections officers, nurses, and the people who fix our roads and take care of our veterans – to have a stronger voice for safer, stronger and healthier communities. In the end, all of Nevada’s communities and the economy will be stronger for it,” Sisolak said.

Business groups and critics on the right have long and vehemently opposed allowing state employees to bargain collectively over wages, benefits and working conditions.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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