Fight for Collective Bargaining Had Able Foot Soldiers – State Workers Themselves

LAS VEGAS – Veronica Davis-Brown explained how having a voice on the job would allow her to share her expertise of many years on the job as a correctional officer and better serve the prison community.

Agueda Sanchez outlined why making staff-led changes in the workplace would allow state workers to provide better services to Nevada’s youth.

Elizabeth Crumrine spoke about how staff need a way to advocate for much-needed resources to better serve rural families. 

Davis-Brown’s comments came at a legislative hearing, where she testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 135, a bill aimed at extending collective bargaining rights to more than 20,000 state workers for the first time. Sanchez spoke at a worker’s rally. Crumrine addressed a press conference.

They were among thousands of state employees who took action by showing up at hearings, writing postcards, signing letters and petitions, and making phone calls to their legislators and the governor in support of collective bargaining rights for Nevada state employees.

Their actions paid off Wednesday, as Gov. Steve Sisolak signed SB 135 into law. For decades, state employees have been the only public services workers in Nevada without the right to negotiate over working conditions and compensation.

“As state employees, we know nothing will change if we, the staff who know our work and facility best, don’t come together to create changes,” Sanchez, an AFSCME Local 4041 member and group supervisor at Summit View Youth Center, said at a rally in May.

Crumrine, a Local 4041 member and social services manager for the State of Nevada, said that having the right to collectively bargain “means we have the freedom to speak up together for the training, equipment, staffing levels and protections we need to benefit our communities.”

“It means that we can ensure that all counties, regardless of zip code, can work together with dedicated public servants to be healthier, safer and stronger,” Crumrine told reporters in May.

Those sentiments hold true to this day as members of Local 4041 begin the next phase – ensuring that as many state workers as possible use the collective bargaining rights to improve Nevada for all.

“Our next step is to continue building our union. If we have a strong union, we can have a strong first contract; then continue to build from there,” said Harry Schiffman, an electrician at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and president of Local 4041. “This law is just the beginning of what state employees can accomplish together as a union.”

Local 4041 members who played such an important role in winning collective bargaining rights will continue to lead the way to ensuring state employees have the needed resources to improve state services for the people of Nevada.

Brown-Davis noted that with collective bargaining rights, state workers will no longer be taken for granted. Their input will carry more weight. Managers would need to listen to the rank-and-file workers’ suggestions for workplace improvements. And agencies would no longer be able to ignore workers when they collectively seek the necessary resources to strengthen their communities.

“Longtime experienced officers like myself will have the ability to share valuable input to find solutions to common problems,” Brown-Davis told the Nevada Senate Government Affairs Committee in April. “Our voices at the table will help to ensure public safety is front and center, and that we have the resources we need to make sure we get home at night.”