A Las Vegas judge has temporarily blocked Teamsters Local 14 from taking control as the bargaining agent for the 11,000 bus drivers, custodians and support staff who work for the Clark County School District.
After waging a nearly 15-year battle to oust the Education Support Employees Association as the union representing those workers, the Teamsters won a landslide victory in an election last December to replace ESEA.
But the legal fight will last even longer after Clark County District Judge Kenneth Cory this week sided with ESEA and put the brakes on a transition of power to the Teamsters.
In an order signed Thursday, the judge cited ESEA’s “likelihood” to win a trial on the merits of its case and the union’s demonstration that a transition would cause “irreparable harm.”
“This gives us the opportunity to refocus on getting the (school) district back to the negotiating table,” said Guillermo Vasquez, ESEA executive director.
“The teachers got their new contract. The police officers did too,” he added. “Now we’re at the table and trying to get a counterproposal.”
Last year, district and ESEA negotiators reached a deadlock in negotiations for a new contract. Those discussions resumed in January, and the two sides have met four times since then, Vasquez said.
Support staff recently urged the Clark County School Board to approve a new contract that includes salary hikes, better health insurance and an improved retirement plan.
In a statement, the district confirmed that “Nevada law requires (it) to negotiate with the exclusive bargaining representative for district support staff employees which at this time continues to be ESEA.”
Some workers hoped the Teamsters could flex their political muscle to secure a new contract, and in December, 81 percent of the 5,339 ballots cast in a runoff election supported the Teamsters.
ESEA officials promised to challenge the results of that election, claiming as illegal a change in voting rules that allowed a simple majority of those who cast a ballot. Previous rules required a so-called supermajority in which one union seeking control needed 50 percent plus 1 of all total union membership to vote in its favor.
“We’re very disappointed in Judge Cory’s decision to further delay justice for the support staff,” said Grant Davis, vice president of the Teamsters local.
“They’ve voted three times to support the Teamsters by increasingly larger margins and more votes each time,” he added. “The bigger disappointment and anger … is directed toward the ESEA. They are supported by a very small minority of workers and yet they continue to waste dues-payers’ money in fighting this.”
The judge has scheduled an April 26 hearing to consider whether he should review an order certifying the Teamsters as the winner of the runoff election.
Contact Neal Morton at email@example.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton