Weak labor laws hindering union efforts

To the editor:

Your July 5 editorial, “Culinary ‘victory,’ ” argues that Culinary Local 226 “lost six out of seven” allegations against Station Casinos at the National Labor Relations Board and that somehow this means the union’s organizing drive at Station properties is pointless.

But the editorial misstates both the gravity and number of Station’s unfair labor practices and the relationship between the Culinary winning labor cases and representing the workers at Station properties around the valley.

First, the editorial itself makes clear that the one unfair labor allegation the NLRB recently upheld – that a supervisor at Palace Station unlawfully threatened employees if they supported the union – was a separate case from the 87 other findings of unfair labor practices against the company that are “under review” by an administrative law judge. Here, the editorial is incorrect – an administrative law judge in Las Vegas has already found there to be 87 violations of labor law. The only question is how many of those charges will be upheld on appeal by the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

There is a good likelihood that most of them will be, since federal judges do not lightly find violations unless they are not compelled by the law.

Second, the fact that the charges that are upheld have not led to monetary or injunctive penalties says nothing about the severity of the violation, but instead about the weakness of federal labor law as it stands now. It is not a “technicality” that the union’s drive to organize Station Casinos has been damaged by the inability of the law to impose meaningful violations on the company’s attempts to deter workers from organizing.

Third, the Culinary’s desire to avoid a secret ballot election has everything to do with the weakness of labor law that I just mentioned. If workers are not protected by the very agency that is supposed to be enforcing their right to engage in protected activity, why should they trust the NLRB to run a fair election when they vote by secret ballot?

Ruben J. Garcia

Las Vegas

The writer is a professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law.

Big number

To the editor:

The front page of the July 6 Review-Journal featured a wire service story with a headline stating that cutting $1.2 trillion in federal spending may cost 300,000 jobs. Dividing the cost by the number of jobs lost, we get a figure of $4 million per job.

I’ll be glad to take my $4 million share and not file for unemployment benefits.

Sound ridiculous? This is typical of the “stimulus” mentality of our progressive politicians.

Robert D. Kraft

Las Vegas

Outlandish claims

To the editor:

In response to the June 17 commentary from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, “The HOA scandal”:

Mr. Hansen claims that the terrible homeowner association scandal in Las Vegas results from a small provision in Nevada law that addresses attorney fees in construction defect cases. His imagination leads him to outlandish claims that voter fraud, bankruptcies, indictments and even deaths all could have been prevented by a change in an unrelated section of Nevada law.

The allegations in the HOA scandal show that greed, fraud and criminal conduct by former police officers, attorneys, unscrupulous individuals and – yes – even contractors, are the root causes of this scandal.

Logic can lead to no other conclusion.

But Mr. Hansen writes that frivolous lawsuits abound because lawyers in construction defect cases are “virtually guaranteed their attorney fees.”

The law, on the other hand, simply states that the “prevailing party” in a construction defect case is entitled to attorney fees. It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand that, if you win, you are allowed to have the other side cover the costs you incurred in legal fees. This provision applies to both homeowners and contractors in construction defect cases and has been used by both sides for many years. Stretching the truth would be a generous way to describe Mr. Hansen’s claim that attorney fees are “virtually guaranteed.”

Mr. Hansen claims that this prevailing party provision has led to frivolous lawsuits which constitute a billion-dollar corruption. In Nevada, a frivolous lawsuit is defined as one that is “both baseless and made without a reasonable and competent inquiry” (Bergman v. Boyce, 109 Nev. 670, 1993). I have been a licensed lawyer since 1978 and have served on the Assembly Judiciary Committee since 2007. While I have heard Mr. Hansen’s claim that “frivolous lawsuits abound” repeated by advocates on his side of the issue, no one has ever presented an example of an instance where a construction defect lawsuit was filed and thrown out by a Nevada court because it was frivolous.

Logic would dictate that if this was a billion-dollar industry whose foundation rested upon filing frivolous lawsuits, Mr. Hansen’s supporters could at least present one example to back up these immense accusations.

As a citizen Legislature, we, as elected officials, all have day jobs. Our service to the people we represent can be for many reasons, but personal financial gain clearly should not be one of them. Mr. Hansen’s real job is as a subcontractor in Northern Nevada. It appears that his overzealous efforts in support of his day job have led him to abandon all logic and reach unnecessarily inflammatory conclusions.

Ascribing any cause to this scandal other than greed and corruption is unwarranted and impossible.

Tick Segerblom

Las Vegas

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 9 in the Nevada Assembly.

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