- Associated Press - Thursday, April 4, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada state workers flooded a legislative hearing Thursday night and urged lawmakers to support a bill that would give them the right to collectively bargain.

The hearing drew dozens to show their support for collective bargaining - something that for decades has remained an elusive goal for supportive state lawmakers. Efforts to enact similar bargaining stretch back at least 46 years in Nevada, but the bills have continually failed at various points in the legislative process.

“It is necessary. The time is now,” said Richard McCann, executive director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers.

State workers voiced a litany of workplace-related concerns and said collective bargaining would provide an avenue to addressing them. In general, supporters say the legislation would lead to less turnover, improved services and better working conditions.

William Gibbs, a mental health counselor, said state workers are not asking for anything extra, just fairness. “I wish it would’ve been here when I started,” he said.

Opponents warn the bill could come with an increased price tag for Nevada and hamper its ability to handle a future economic crisis because of increased labor costs.

Representatives from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the chamber of commerce for the Reno and Sparks area spoke in opposition to the measure.

Paul Moradkhan, a registered lobbyist for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the organization is concerned about how the bill will affect the long-term stability of the state’s budget. Nevada’s expenditures, he said, will see a significant increase if state workers are given the right to collectively bargain.

The measure seeks to allow state workers the right to bargain collectively over wages, hours and other employment conditions. State workers given the ability to collectively bargain under the bill would include janitors, secretaries and accountants, among others. That right would not extend to managerial employees under the bill.

Sen. David Parks said state workers are underpaid and the legislation would be a step forward. Officials from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees presented the legislation to lawmakers.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports a majority of states have some form of collective bargaining for state employees.

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