Nevada State Employees Gain Collective Bargaining Rights

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed into law a historic bill granting 20,000 state workers the right to collectively bargain.

The bill, which he signed Wednesday, is the largest expansion of collective bargaining rights for state workers anywhere in the U.S. in 16 years, and it will position those workers to better fight a rigged economy that favors the wealthy.

The signing of SB 135 marks another massive win for working people and the labor movement, as union momentum continues to grow across the country. Now, with the freedom to negotiate, Nevada state employees – including corrections officers, nurses, Department of Transportation workers, caretakers, and the like – can use their collective voice to negotiate a host of workplace issues, among them wages, paid leave and ways to improve safety on the job.  

In a statement, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said: “This bill is about respect for state employees who make their communities stronger every day. Americans are looking for an answer to a rigged economy that favors the wealthy, and it’s clear that they are turning to unions in growing numbers. It is time to make it easier all across the country for working people to join in strong unions.”

Sisolak said state workers who toil in anonymity to improve Nevada deserve respect. 

“For public sector service workers, the work they do every day for the Silver State isn’t merely a job. It’s a calling. It’s a career. At times, the work they do can go unrecognized, and often, it can be thankless. That’s just one reason signing this bill is so important,” the governor said at the signing ceremony. “It’s about respect for state workers and finally giving them the voice at the table they deserve, the seat at the table that has gone unfilled for so long.”

Harry Schiffman, president of AFSCME Local 4041, which represents state workers throughout Nevada, thanked SB 135’s sponsor, state Sen. David Parks, and leaders in the Nevada Legislature for their support for Nevada state employees. 

“This is a historic day for state employees and all Nevadans, as collective bargaining rights will mean a voice on the job to make meaningful changes in our workplaces and communities,” Schiffman said. 

Set against a national backdrop of workers joining in a wave of activism and new organizing drives, this latest victory offers further evidence that unions are seeing increasing grassroots and political momentum. AFSCME will continue to pursue a growth agenda in Nevada and across the country to strengthen public services and give public service workers the respect they deserve.