Union boss to lawmakers: We will judge you by actions, not words

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Culinary union workers joined members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Las Vegas May 14 to rally for public employee collective bargaining rights. (Nevada Current file photo)
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Culinary union wokers joined members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Las Vegas May 14 to rally for public employee collective bargaining rights. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

State employees say they’re tired of getting lip service from politicians.  With fewer than three weeks remaining in the 2019 legislative session, they want action on what they call a long overdue change in Nevada law that would give them the right afforded other government workers — the ability to engage in collective bargaining. 

Legislation before lawmakers that would do just that is stalled in the Assembly, where it’s yet to have a hearing.

State workers rallied outside the Grant Sawyer state building in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon. They were joined by members of Culinary Local 226 and UNITE HERE President D Taylor, who told the crowd state employees have been discriminated against by state lawmakers.

“Everyone else has collective bargaining,” Taylor told a members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME),  joined by Culinary workers, who turned out in solidarity. “The only people who do not have collective bargaining are state employees.”

Senate Bill 135 is sponsored by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs.

“There’s no question this is the number one labor issue in this legislative session.  And frankly, we’re collecting on an IOU,” Taylor said, crediting union members with helping to elect a Democratic governor and Democratic majority Legislature.  “What we’re saying is you cannot be our friend in October and November and forget us in January, February, March, April and May.”

“I know the Culinary and Bartenders, they will not judge people by what they say but what they do,” Taylor said to cheers from members.  “Because nobody likes to be betrayed, nobody likes to be lied to, and nobody likes to be given the rationale that something can’t get done when they were promised it earlier.”

AFSCME 4041 member Kevin Chung, a guard at the Ely State Prison, says he was attacked by prisoners while distributing canteens in what he described as an unsafe environment resulting from inadequate staffing. 

Just days after the attack, with his face badly bruised, Chung testified before a Senate committee.

“I want you to see my face. We need a voice on the job, so this doesn’t happen again to anyone else,” Chung told lawmakers.

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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