By SANDRA CHEREB
REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU
CARSON CITY — Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson lashed out Friday at a freshman Democratic Assembly member for his sponsorship of a bill that would reverse some collective bargaining reforms passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2015.
Assembly Bill 121, introduced Thursday by Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, would keep salary raises in place for government employees when union contracts expire and until a new labor agreement is reached.
Additionally, any new increases would be retroactive automatically unless otherwise stipulated in a new contract or accepted by an arbitrator.
“Yeager’s bill would allow public sector unions to stonewall local governments by refusing to bargain in good faith just so they can continue to collect raises on contracts that are expired,” Roberson said. “All of which will cost taxpayers millions of dollar annually.’
Cherie Mancini, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1107, said Roberson’s attack was “rich in irony.”
“He clearly is more interested in lining the pockets of his attorney friends than in looking out for the public employees who provide vital services and ensure our safety,” Mancini said in a statement.
Elimination of the so-called “evergreen” clause from union contracts was a key provision of Senate Bill 241 sponsored by Roberson in 2015 and passed unanimously in the Assembly and 15-4 in the Senate.
Mancini said the “ink had barely dried” on the bill before an attorney representing local governments was soliciting business “to undermine public workers.”
“The effort denied workers their legitimately earned pay for more than a year and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and for what?” Mancini said.
Roberson said the Assembly proposal would also cost taxpayers money by requiring local governments to pay for union activities by public employees.
Roberson’s 2015 bill, which is current law, makes such compensation for union activities conditioned upon reimbursement by the union or bargaining concessions that offset the cost of the employee’s leave.
“This Democrat bill also requires taxpayers to pay millions of dollars annually for public employees to participate in union activities rather than doing the jobs they were actually hired to do,” Roberson said.
He accused the Democratic majority of backing an effort by the Nevada Association of Counties to recalculate existing caps on property taxes as a way to raise more money for unions and public employees.
“Democrats want to line the pockets of public sector unions at the taxpayer’s expense,” Roberson said. “And, they have shamelessly allowed a public-sector union member to sponsor the effort.”
Yeager, a deputy in the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, returned the sarcasm in a tweet: “You know you’ve done something right if Michael Roberson doesn’t like it.”
Contact Sandra Chereb at email@example.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraCherebon Twitter.