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Union, state workers reach agreement on contract

CARSON CITY – State officials and workers represented by a union authorized under a 2019 collective bargaining law announced a tentative contract agreement on Tuesday for four of 11 affected employee groups.

At the same time, another of the newly-constituted public employees unions, this one representing Nevada Highway Patrol and other peace officers, filed a complaint with the state labor relations board alleging bad faith bargaining on the part of the state.

Senate Bill 135 of the 2019 legislative session authorized collective bargaining for 11 groups of state workers, some 22,000 people in all. The law still gives the governor final say over negotiated contracts.

The groups covered in the latest tentative agreement include labor, maintenance and custodial personnel; professional and non-professional healthcare workers; and corrections officers, all represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Contract details, including pay and other benefits, won’t be released pending ratification by the bargaining units and approval by a state contracting board. The agreement would then go to the Legislature, with the governor submitting budget amendments as needed.

In a statement, AFSCME Local 4041 president Harry Schiffman said the contracts for state workers had been “more than 20 years in the making” and said the agreement “lays a strong foundation to improve working conditions for state employees and the services we provide to our communities for generations to come.”

In an accompanying statement, Department of Administration Director Laura Freed said the two sides “worked diligently to find common ground and reach meaningful compromises.” The agreement, she said, recognized the value of state workers and the service they provide “while also honoring the responsibility we have to ensure state programs are administered efficiently and effectively.”

Another bargaining group, representing a class of peace officers that includes state inspectors and investigators, among others, announced a tentative agreement with the state on Feb. 26.

As those parties announced the tentative deal, the Nevada Police Union on Monday filed a complaint with the Employee-Management Relations Board claiming that state representatives had “demonstrated regressive bargaining tactics, produced fraudulent data to support their position, and withheld important financial information from the negotiating process” over three months of deliberations, according to a union statement.

The complaint accuses the state of misleading the union on matters including paid leave and union access to equipment and facilities. It alleges that state officials “incorrectly summarized” collective bargaining agreements with other labor groups in an attempt to support the state’s negotiation position.

“We think it is only fair to ask for contractual agreements with the state that every other law-enforcement agency in Nevada provides their police officers,” Union President Matthew Kaplan said in a statement.

The state has 20 days to respond to the complaint. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration said the department was “disappointed” that the union “felt it was necessary to take this to EMRB, but we look forward to successful resolution of this negotiation to add to the two successful tentative agreements we’ve reached with other unions.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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