Arbitration for state employees wins panel’s backing |

Arbitration for state employees wins panel’s backing

Appeal Capitol Bureau

The Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Friday voted unanimously to support a plan giving state workers their first access to mediation and arbitration with state agencies.

AB484 would establish workplace-relations units for maintenance and custodial workers, administrative and clerical employees, technical aides, professional employees, peace officers and other groups. It would allow employees in different agencies and groups to organize and require state agencies to engage in discussion of workplace relations with them

Scott MacKenzie of the State of Nevada Employees Association said pay and benefits would not be subject to arbitration under the proposal. Instead, the subjects available for the process would be limited to “terms and conditions of employment.”

The bill defines that as hours and working conditions, grievances, discipline and discharge and other issues that don’t require an appropriation from the Legislature.

MacKenzie was joined in supporting the proposal by AFL-CIO director Danny Thompson, a former Assembly member who said the state has “wasted millions” fighting legal cases involving such things as work schedules. He said the legislation is designed to fix those types of problems without going to court.

Under the legislation, if negotiations on an issue are stalled, either side could request a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. If that fails, the issue would go to binding arbitration.

SNEA and other unions have made similar proposals every legislative session for more than a decade but never gotten a plan through both houses. Lawmakers have long expressed concern arbitration such as that granted to local government employees would end up costing the state millions in higher salaries and strip the Legislature and governor of the power to control the state budget.

MacKenzie said this proposal is carefully designed to make sure financial issues aren’t on the table. He said allowing state employees to have some effect on work conditions in their offices would help improve agency operations and staff morale.

The vote to support AB484 was unanimous. The bill goes to the floor of the Assembly for a vote.