AFSCME members speak out on proposed budget changes

On Friday, dozens AFSCME Local 4041 members quickly mobilized to share their thoughts with the Legislative Interim Finance Committee about possible state budget changes due to the economic impact of COVID-19. 

The committee did not act on Governor Steve Sisolak’s proposed furlough plan at Friday’s meeting, but nevertheless, AFSCME members sprung to action to voice their dissatisfaction with the Governor’s proposal, which did not include any input from state workers. 

I join with thousands of Nevada state employees in demanding that we have a seat at the table where decisions are made about our working conditions and lives,” Shamond Price, a highway equipment mechanic, told the committee.  

AFSCME members spoke at the hearing with a clear message – state workers demand to have a say in any changes to their working conditions and any changes made to the budget that affect their lives.  

State employees know our jobs best and we are prepared to be part of the solution to help the state navigate through tough choices. When our state falls on hard times, state employees are always on the menu, but now, we demand a seat at the table, said Harry Schiffman, an electrician at UNLV and president of Local 4041. 

AFSCME members from various departments shared how budget changes would negatively impact the services their communities rely on to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“As our state begins this road to recovery, now is not the time to inflict more harm on our communities by cutting services, or by laying off or furloughing the very workers who have provided our communities with hope,” Olivia Henson, a family services specialist, submitted in a written statement. 

Already operating on tight budgets, AFSCME members also shared how further budget cuts will make it harder for state employees to do their jobs.  

"In the years since the great recession, we’ve continued to be understaffed and have gone without equipment upgrades. In fact, many times cuts to public services meant we can go months without fixing basic equipment like light bulbs and door locks if they break,” said Joe Roberts, a corrections officer and president of the Big Meadows Chapter of Local 4041.  

Even though state employees continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not immune from the potential economic impact that may follow.  

“Nevada still has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation, laying off or furloughing state employees will only add to these numbers, putting our state further behind on the road to recovery,” Daphne Deleon, an education project manager and president of the Washoe Chapter of Local 4041 submitted in a written statement. 

While AFSCME members face a long road, they know that together they are much stronger to make changes. 

“My co-workers and I have chosen to organize as AFSCME Local 4041, and it is the state’s duty to respect our choice and allow us our right to use our collective voice to have a say when changes are made that affect our work and our lives,” said Angela Longman, a Developmental Support Tech.