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Collective-bargaining bills planned in Nevada

The Nevada Legislature is set for a heated debate on collective bargaining for public employees, although there’s nothing on the table as drastic as Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal in Wisconsin.

Former Gov. Jim Gibbons sought changes similar to Walker’s, but Gibbons lost to former federal judge Brian Sandoval in the Republican primary and Sandoval backed off Gibbons’ proposal.

Instead, the newly elected Republican wants legislators to make their own proposals for him to consider.

Most state workers in Nevada don’t have collective bargaining rights. But local government workers do and Republican state legislators blame overly generous contracts for financial crunch facing governments across the state.

On Thursday Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, introduced Senate Bill 169, which would change the way governments handle public employee layoffs.

The bill would prohibit assigning seniority a greater weight on-the-job performance when determining which workers are laid off.

It was assigned to the Senate’s Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, which is chaired by Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, plans to introduce at least two bills of his own which would address collective bargaining by public employees.

One would refer to a recent United States Supreme Court case Roberson says allows governments to consider reopening existing contracts in situations determined to be financial emergencies.

“If this isn’t an emergency situation I don’t know what is,” Roberson said.

The second bill would identify at least three points during the bargaining process when offers from the employer and the union would need to be disclosed to the public.

Roberson also wants to eliminate collective bargaining for management-level public employees.

Danny Thompson, executive secretary treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO, says Republicans are wrongly blaming collective bargaining for financial woes facing Nevada governments.

“We just view this as a distraction from the real problem,” Thompson said. “You have got a broken tax system that doesn’t pay the bills.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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