Collective bargaining for state workers passes Assembly |

Collective bargaining for state workers passes Assembly

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The Nevada Assembly voted 27-15 on Monday to give state workers collective bargaining rights.

Assemblyman Wendell Williams, D-Las Vegas, said state workers are alone among public employees in the state in not having collective bargaining rights.

Opponents, however, have expressed fears about the cost to the state if workers could go to binding arbitration, and how that would affect the Legislature’s power over the budget.

Williams said AB65 acknowledges the Legislature’s right to control funding. He said the bill provides that negotiations take place in even-numbered years so the proposed contract can go to the Legislature, which would have to appropriate funds to pay for it.

“The Legislature has the ability to dictate that, if in fact there is a budget shortfall, that collective bargaining is not in the best interest of the state,” he told the Assembly.

Williams challenged fellow Assembly members to vote for the legislation, even though the Senate is expected to kill it. That happened in 2001 when Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, moved for “no further consideration” when the Assembly legislation arrived in the Senate.

“I think the people’s house, if it is really the people’s house, will send a message to the other side,” Williams said.

Most of the opposition came from the Republican members of the Assembly. Among the Republicans who voted for AB65 was Ron Knecht, whose Carson City district has the largest percentage of state workers in Nevada.