Nevada’s powerful casino workers’ union rallied Tuesday in support of a bill slowly moving through the Legislature that would give state employees the right to bargain collectively.
Dozens of members of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 joined state workers and members of a public employees union to warn lawmakers and the governor that they consider it the most important labor legislation this year and will be closely watching what happens with less than three weeks left in the session.
D. Taylor, a former culinary union president and current president of the union’s national affiliate Unite Here, said at the rally in Las Vegas that union members worked hard to elect Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and a Democratically controlled Legislature where leaders all say they support collective bargaining.
“We will judge people by not what they say but by what they do. Because nobody likes to be betrayed,” Taylor said.
Sisolak has said he supports giving workers the right to collectively bargain but hasn’t said if he’d sign the bill.
Supporters say the bill would give about 20,000 state workers such as prison guards, janitors and secretaries the ability to secure better wages and working conditions while curbing turnover.
Teachers, members of the Nevada National Guard and workers in managerial roles would not be covered, and the legislation would not authorize workers to strike.
Republicans, conservatives and business groups opposing the legislation say it would be costly for the state and hamstring efforts to rein in costs during an economic downturn.
The bill is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee and from there needs to be considered by the full Senate and Assembly.
Henderson Democratic Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, who chairs the committee, said the bill would not get a hearing until the governor’s office wraps up some discussion with stakeholders, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public employees union with about 3,100 state workers among its membership.
Woodhouse said she did not know what was being discussed.
Sisolak’s spokeswoman Helen Kalla said the governor’s office has been working closely with stakeholders and lawmakers “to explore all options to empower state workers to bargain collectively in the years ahead.”
She did not answer questions about whether they were working on changes to the measure.
Harry Schiffman, president of AFSCME Local 4041, said he’s not aware of any changes in the works or anything holding up the bill.
The union did not answer follow-up questions about talks with the governor’s office.