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School district support staff union to challenge Teamsters election victory

A nearly 15-year fight to unseat the labor union that represents more than 11,000 bus drivers, custodians and other support staff who work for the Clark County School District again will head to court soon.

Thanks to a change in rules governing public-sector unions in Nevada, the Teamsters Local 14 claimed a landslide victory in a runoff election last month, and a state government entity certified the election results as official on Monday.

But a lawyer for the Education Support Employees Association, which represents school support staff, promised to “promptly” challenge that in state court.

“There’s a significant risk that a court might disagree with you,” attorney Frank Flaherty told the members of the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board.

That three-member board, which oversees public employers and their labor unions, unanimously voted to certify the election of the Teamsters as the bargaining agent for all support staff.

Last month, 81 percent of the 5,399 support staff workers who cast a ballot in the runoff election voted to support the Teamsters union, which has sought in multiple elections since 2002 to oust the ESEA.

State rules, however, required a supermajority in which one union seeking control needed 50 percent plus 1 of total union membership to vote in its favor.

That changed when the Employee-Management Relations Board voted earlier last year to change the 13-year-old policy and require only a simple majority of those who vote in an election.

At a hearing to certify the Dec. 5 election results, ESEA supporters noted the organization only recently returned to the negotiating table to hammer out a new support staff contract with the school district.

They argued certifying the Teamsters as the bargaining agent would dismantle negotiations, and a lawyer for the district questioned whether the Teamsters — which represents about 3,000 public employees across Clark County — can manage the representation of 11,000 support staff workers.

Sara Varela, an attorney for the Teamsters, tried to calm both fears.

“I don’t doubt that ESEA will go to court, (but) I don’t think they’re going to prevail,” Varela said.

“Local 14 stands ready to meet with (the district) to figure out how to make that process move forward and how to make it move forward smoothly,” she added.

Contact Neal Morton at nmorton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton

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