In Nevada, government workers’ rights are being undermined by a patchwork of state laws ostensibly designed to protect them, but which in effect elevate the interests of labor unions over individual workers. Public-sector employees who disagree with the unions that purport to represent them are helpless in a system that favors “union security” over worker freedom.
When the U.S. Supreme Court decided that government unions can no longer compel workers to subsidize their activities in the recent Janus v. AFSCME case, it was a monumental victory for worker freedom. The ruling showed the country that the historic, often uncontested, power that unions have over the very workers they claim to represent is not absolute.
However, union security laws remain deeply entrenched at the state level. Whereas federal law governs the realm of private-sector collective bargaining, laws governing public-sector unions (with the exception of federal-employee unions) were adopted on a state-by-state basis. Thus individual states can of their own volition implement appropriate pro-worker reforms aimed at restoring the proper balance of power between government unions and individual workers. It is up to individuals and groups within these states to take a stand against an unfair system and reform the law.
Union security laws in Nevada deny public-sector employees basic worker rights, such as the right to vote upon their union representation, the right to decide not to be a member of a union (and thus cease paying dues) without restriction, and the right for non-members to represent themselves during negotiations with their employer.
Accordingly, this report is intended as a primer to educate lawmakers and the public at-large on three specific worker-freedom reforms which can be implemented at the state level:
1) Periodic government-union recertification;
2) “Workers’ Choice” in representation; and
3) Elimination of so-called “opt-out periods” that restrict when dues-paying members are able to withdraw from their union.
If enacted into state law, these three simple reforms would constitute measurable progress towards restoring and prioritizing the rights of both union and non-union employees in Nevada’s public sector.