After nearly two decades of fighting, the local union representing Clark County School District support staff and the Teamsters may be on the verge of a deal to end their battle over representation of roughly 12,000 employees.
The Education Support Employees Association, the current recognized bargaining agent, has battled repeated efforts by Teamsters Local 14 to poach its members and take over its bargaining status. The fight dates to at least 2002.
Elections in 2006 and 2015 showed that the Teamsters local had the support of a majority of support staff who voted.
But the Nevada Supreme Court delivered a blow to the Teamsters in November, ruling that a union must win the votes of the majority of all members in a bargaining unit — not just a majority of those voting — in order to be recognized as the new bargaining agent.
Both unions now say they’re working on a compromise — though neither went into detail about what that may entail.
“What I would say is that those discussions are ongoing,” said Brian Lee, ESEA acting executive director. “And we hope to have a conclusion to them soon.”
In a letter to members on its website, the ESEA acknowledged that although it won the Supreme Court battle, leadership feels it’s important to “explore all options in order to ensure unity” among support staff during “difficult times in our district.”
Teamsters Local 14 Vice President Grant Davis said that the ESEA reached out to the union several months ago to determine how to put an end to the battle.
“Maybe there’s an opportunity here for us to kind of stop the bleeding at this point, and work something out in the long run (that) might be beneficial to us, as opposed to Teamsters continuing to be out there fighting,” he said.
District numbers from June 2018 show that only 35 percent of full- and part-time support staff had union dues deducted from their paychecks, suggesting its current membership has plunged well below the 50 percent level. The union has kept actual membership figures from the public amid attacks from the Teamsters.
Meanwhile, the ESEA parent organization, the Nevada State Education Association, also has been fighting a battle over the representation of teachers in Clark County.
Last year, the Clark County Education Association voted to disaffiliate from the Nevada State Education Association. That battle also played out in court when the two sides sued each other in 2017.
The CCEA argued that it properly disaffiliated and terminated its agreement with the NSEA and therefore did not owe its former parent any dues. The NSEA argued that the CCEA unlawfully withheld dues for the NSEA and the national umbrella organization, the National Education Association.
A Clark County district judge ruled in December that the CCEA properly terminated its agreements with the NSEA and does not owe any dues to its former parent organization.
But Lee said the state association is appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court.
“This has always been something that we knew was going to be resolved by the Nevada Supreme Court,” he said.