Nevada Senate Finance Committee recommends passage of collective bargaining for state workers |

Nevada Senate Finance Committee recommends passage of collective bargaining for state workers

By Geoff Dornan

The Senate Finance Committee voted 5-3 Saturday to recommend passage of collective bargaining for state workers.

The three Republican members, Ben Kieckhefer of Reno, James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville and Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, voted agains processing SB135.

Kieckhefer pointed out that a 2016 salary study estimated it would cost the state $97 million a year to raise salaries of 23 classifications of state workers to match the average of what their local counterparts are paid. Human Resources Director Peter Long testified that was the estimate for that small number of classification and that the state has a total of 1,300 different job classifications.

“That was a small sample overall,” he said.

Kieckhefer also said the bill contains language that could result in fiscal impact to the state without legislative approval because those increases would be contained in contract negotiations.

Long also said his division would need eight staff to handle the collective bargaining process and would require an administrative assessment increase of  $68.25 per state employee in 2020 and $72.25 in 2021. The current total assessment to support Human Resources is $228 per employee for the roughly 26,000 workers employed by the state.

Gov. Steve Sisolak promised state workers he would back collective bargaining for them during his campaign. State officials have repeatedly said collective bargaining at the local government level has provided those workers with significantly higher salaries than state workers get for the same jobs, causing a drain as state workers resign to take jobs at cities and counties.

The bill does not contain any estimates of how much more state money would be needed to cover pay and benefit increases for state workers if they had collective bargaining and arbitration rights.

The bill goes to the floor of the Senate.