Assembly panel backs collective bargaining for state workers

(Appeal Capitol Bureau) The Assembly Government Affairs Committee voted unanimously Monday to support giving state workers collective bargaining rights.

Oran McMichael, of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said AB601 is a question of fairness since local government employees in Nevada already have the ability to bargain for wages, hours, benefits and work conditions. He said 25 other states also allow some form of collective bargaining for their employees.

He said giving state workers those rights would improve governmental efficiency and service and protect the public interest.

"Union representation in collective bargaining is a basic human right," McMichael told the committee. "Presently, state employees are in the position of collective begging."

The bill received support from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee. Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, emphasized that all local governments and school districts in Nevada have collective bargaining.

Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, described the bill as "a case of being right and fair."

The only questions raised were over whether workers would be required to join the union and pay dues. McMichael said he hoped that state employees would see the benefit unions provide and voluntarily join but that it isn't required they join or pay.

He said similar legislation has been passed by the Assembly in the last two sessions, "but it failed to have a hearing on the Senate side."

Cervical cancer vaccine bill clears committee

The bill to require health insurers to cover the vaccine that prevents cervical cancer cleared the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on a 3-2 vote Monday.

SB409 was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, to require health insurance companies, the State Plan for Medicaid and Nevada Check-Up to cover the cost of the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) vaccine. The bill now goes to the Senate Floor for a vote.

Titus said the bill does not mandate the vaccine but simply makes it more affordable. She said funding for the vaccine is already included in the Medicaid and Nevada Check-up budgets.

Statistics provided the committee estimated that 80 percent of all women will have HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, by the age of 50.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 11,150 cervical cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States this year.


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