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“Union Armageddon Bill” Stands Still in NV; Speculation About Gov’s Position on High



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Last week, the Nevada Legislature held its first hearing on legislation that would make sweeping changes to public sector workers’ right to collectively bargain.  Critics of the legislation have labeled it the “union Armageddon bill” and many fear it will have an impact similar to Wisconsin’s contentious Act 10.  Assembly Bill 182, introduced by Randy Kirner, would prevent unions from automatically deducting fees from paychecks, prohibit collective bargaining agreements from halting layoffs during budgetary crises, and put a stop to paid leave for union members during collective bargaining with their employers.  

Nevada Republicans argue that the bill is necessary for budget reasons.  Kirner argues that AB 182 is all about spending, saying, “We’ve lost the balance between the interests of the taxpayer and the union.”

Unions and Democrats disagree, highlighting what they say is a clear anti-worker agenda since November’s electoral sweep by the GOP.  It is the first time Nevada Republicans have controlled both legislative chambers since 1929, and they are using their power to stifle union member livelihood and collective bargaining, their opponents say.

Ruben J. Garcia, a law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), said of AB 182, “It’s stopped short of prohibiting collective bargaining entirely, but would make it so onerous that the system as it has functioned would grind down.”

For many, AB 182 is an attempt to punish those who often oppose Republicans, in hopes of creating a ‘slow bleed’ scenario which will help preserve legislative dominance in the lead up to the 2020 census. This would allow the GOP to gerrymander their way to another decade of power in the Battle Born state.  Interestingly, although Nevada has had “Right-to-Work” on the books since 1952, its unionization rate of 14.4 percent is above the national average of 11.1 percent. Much of that, however, is a result of high unionization in the construction and hotel industries of Las Vegas.  

During testimony, politicians from across the state came out against collective bargaining cuts.  Among them was Las Vegas Mayor Carol Goodman, who said, “From my experience as mayor, I support collective bargaining.”

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani argues that AB 182 “ignored the history of collective bargaining” and is a “partisan answer to a non-existent problem.”  At the hearing she added, “It’s an attack on the unions, it’s an attack on middle class, and it’s the death by thousand cuts to collective bargaining.

In the end, no action was taken by the committee on AB 182.  Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has not indicated whether or not he will sign the bill if it gets to his desk. AB 182 has Wisconsin Act 10 written all over, but Gov. Sandoval’s behavior does not seem to match Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s.

Asked if the Governor supported AB 182 Sandoval representative Mari St. Martin said:

Yvanna Cancela, the political director for Culinary Workers Union Local 226 of Unite HERE, said of Sandoval:

“He hasn’t come out for this in a Scott Walker anti-union kind of way.  That said, it’s hard for him to justify to his party not to pass these bills.”


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