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September 4, 2015

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Governor vetoes bill to allow state employee negotiations

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CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has vetoed a bill that would give the 15,000 state employees the right to negotiate with the administration over such things as hours and working conditions, grievances and discipline.

The bill, sponsored by a group of Democrats including Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, would have opened the door for some negotiations that are now barred for state workers.

The governor said the bill “would implement collective bargaining for state employees” and increase the cost of government.

“I find it unfathomable and unconscionable that the Legislature would pass a bill that would result in further increases in state spending and would require even further tax increases to fund that spending,” the governor said in his veto message regarding Assembly Bill 395.

The bill passed the Assembly 28-14 and the Senate 13-8. It required the state “to recognize, negotiate and discuss workplace relations with employee organizations that represent state employees.”

Dennis Mallory, representing the State of Nevada Employees Association, said Gibbons, while campaigning for governor in 2006 said he would sign a collective bargaining bill for state workers.

Mallory said state employees should have the same rights as county and city employees to bargain collectively. “It’s unfortunate but we expected it,” he said.

The 2011 Legislature will have the opportunity to try to override the two vetoes.

Employee organizations will work hard on the campaign trail next year to elect more lawmakers favorable to the measure to try to put enough legislators into office to override the veto on the negotiations bill, Mallory said.

He also said that the negotiations don’t increase the cost. But when the cases on appeal reach the Nevada Supreme Court, that raises the cost, he said.

The governor said, “I hope that by the time this veto message is read to the Legislature some modicum of common sense has returned to the process and we can all focus on satisfying the needs rather than the wants of state government.”

The governor also turned down Senate Bill 376, saying it would increase the cost of county public works projects.

The bill dealt with the prevailing wage required for county public works. The bill on the first vote in the Senate failed on a 10-10 tie. But three days later it passed 12-7 along party lines with Democrats supporting it and Republicans voting against the bill.

The vote in the Assembly was 27-13 also along party lines.

The state Labor Commissioner, in setting the prevailing wage in each county, is required to survey contractors who performed jobs during the preceding year. The bill clarifies that the survey encompasses both private and public nonresidential construction work and specifies the classes of workmen for which the commissioner is required to survey.

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