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Teamsters seen as upping effort to be Clark County Schools union

It’s beginning to look like an all-out offensive by the Teamsters against the two largest education unions in Clark County.

Teamsters Local 14 has filed a public records request for the names, job classification and work location for members of the Clark County Education Association, the union representing the School District’s 17,000 teachers.

Teamsters Local 14 secretary-treasurer Larry Griffith confirmed the request was made but he wouldn’t say anything more.

The move could be viewed as an organizing effort by the Teamsters to represent the district’s teachers, labor law experts said.

The Teamsters are in the midst of a fight to take over as the bargaining representative for the district’s 11,000 support staff now represented by the Education Support Employees Association, which is connected to the CCEA via the Nevada State Education Association. NSEA represents both unions at the state legislative level.

A CCEA spokeswoman declined comment when asked about the Teamsters move.

NSEA spokesman Nick Di Archangel said he didn’t want to speculate on the Teamsters’ plans and therefore couldn’t comment.

“Certainly, if they win that (public records) request, it will become apparent,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Teamsters won a significant victory in their bid to oust ESEA as the union for the support staff, which includes the district’s bus drivers, janitors, cooks and others.

A three-member Nevada Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board unanimously agreed to change its 13-year-old policy that requires a supermajority vote for one union to oust another. That decision came in the wake of the Teamsters overwhelming victory in a vote to determine whether workers wanted the Teamsters or ESEA to represent them.

The Teamsters received 71 percent of the votes. Only 5,190 votes were cast, however, which was short of the supermajority the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled is needed for one union to oust another. The ESEA has represented Clark County School District support staff for more than 40 years. A supermajority means the Teamsters needed 50 percent plus 1 of all 11,263 support staff to choose the union, not just a majority of those who took part in the election.

The Teamsters appear to be in a good position to take over as the union for the support staff since the Employee-Management Relations Board decided to get rid of the supermarjority rule. ESEA plans to challenge the board’s decision.

Las Vegas labor lawyer Gregory Kamer said the Teamsters are one of the largest, most aggressive and successful unions in organizing workers. And while the Teamsters are known for representing truck drivers, they also have successfully organized in the public sector, Kamer said.

Kamer said a bid for the teachers would be no surprise. Representation of public-sector employees is increasing while private-sector unions are in decline, he noted.

And “if teachers don’t feel properly represented,” they may wish to switch unions, Kamer said.

Boyd Law School professor Ruben Garcia, who teaches labor relations law, said the public information request could be viewed as an effort to organize the teachers as Teamsters. Garcia said he doesn’t know for sure, but this could be one of several avenues the Teamsters could use to tell the teachers “they can be a more effective advocate.”

Meanwhile, it’s unclear if the district will fulfill the Teamsters’ public records request. The district is in the midst of a court battle with the Nevada Policy Research Institute in light of its rejection of an NPRI request for teacher email addresses.

The conservative think tank requested the email addresses in June 2012 to send messages reminding teachers of the short window of time for dropping their CCEA memberships.

The Nevada Supreme Court is expected to rule whether a district court judge was right to dismiss NPRI’s lawsuit stating the email addresses are public records and should be released.

The district’s legal team is still in the process of reviewing the Teamsters’ request and it wasn’t known Friday whether the request would be honored, spokeswoman Michelle Booth said.

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