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Henderson police labor groups move to drop union-busting complaint

Two police labor groups that accused Henderson Police Department leadership of union busting last year are dropping the complaint.

The associations submitted paperwork to the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board on Tuesday to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, releasing the city and soon-permanent Chief Thedrick Andres of allegations that had plagued them for months.

The unions filed the complaint with the state board in November, naming Andres, the police department, the city of Henderson and then-Chief LaTesha Watson. Watson was dropped from the complaint in April, weeks after the city fired her.

“We believe we had a very strong presentation of union-busting technique,” said Rick McCann, executive director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers. “That has been whittled away by the city’s very good efforts, and I’ll give Thedrick some credit as well from his own efforts.”

If issues arise in the future, McCann said, he will file another complaint.

McCann worked on behalf of the Henderson Police Officers’ Association and the separate police supervisors union in the complaint. He said he believes the new chief when he says he wants to improve relationships with the unions, and although the labor groups are waiting for Andres to address some issues, it doesn’t rise to the level of union busting.

The dismissal will go to the board on July 23 to finalize, giving Andres a clean legal slate to start his tenure as police chief. The police department referred all questions to the city.

”I think there were a lot of things that we’ve done as a city to address some of those concerns that they raised in that complaint, and I think it was warranted to be dismissed,” Deputy City Manager Bristol Ellington said.

The unions and city officials came to an agreement last week, McCann said.

The complaint included accusations of department leaders intimidating officers for being involved in union activities.

“And we felt that, in some senses, (Andres) was the henchman for (Watson),” McCann said.

McCann said the unions did not file the complaint specifically to get Watson fired but to bring attention to the administration’s disregard for union rights.

In exchange for dropping the case, McCann said, the unions got the city to understand that they will file complaints in the future if their rights are violated. But it also gives the police department an opportunity to move forward, he said.

“If I may be so bold, I think we get something out of it because the department members, the citizens of this city and this community, need the department and the city to start healing, and it was not going to heal as long as that was going to be out there, because eventually it was going to come to a hearing,” he said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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