State workers seek collective bargaining with SB135

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CARSON CITY, NV (KOLO) State employees held a news conference on the steps of the legislature Friday, urging passage of a bill granting them collective bargaining rights.

Those who spoke represented the barest sampling of jobs state employees fill-- social workers and a representative of the state law enforcement officers, capitol police, prison guards and highway patrol.

Of course there are hundreds more occupations. Everyone has a stake in the passage of Senate Bill 135.

"Collective bargaining for state employees is historic," said Rick McCann, representing the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers. "We don't have it. Never had it, but we're about to have it, we hope."

The debate about collective bargaining has usually quickly focused on pay. McCann says it's more than that.

"Working conditions, rights of these people, safety issues. All the things that they don't have the opportunity to bargain for now. When you put into effect, for example, body-worn cameras. When you put into effect dash cams, things like that."

"Changes in certain equipment," he continued. "That could very well have a safety issue. Under most circumstances of collective bargaining that's a mandatory subject of bargaining."

Nevada is a right-to-work state. That, he says, would not change.

"If the state's right-to-work status changes it will change in a whole different way. It won't be because of collective bargaining."

SB 135 has yet to face a vote on the floor of either house. A hearing in the Senate Finance Committee is expected in the next week.

Like other money bills, it's exempt from the deadlines other measures face, but this session is approaching the home stretch. McCann is optimistic.

"I think the prospects are very good, Obviously this is a bill that's still a work in progress. There's still things we need to work out. There are timing issues. We don't want to too fast to be able to put this thing into effect and not have it work right. By the same token we don't want to be around 10 years from now still not doing it."

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