As far as most non-governmental employers are concerned, the Republican sweep of the Nevada Legislature will likely be known for what laws won’t be passed. I think employers will not see new or stricter laws in the following areas:
- Protections for employees using medical marijuana.
- The availability of bigger dollar damages in discrimination cases under state law.
- The definition of or regulation of independent contractors.
- Changes to the state wage/hour/overtime law.
I do predict serious debate and probable action on laws dealing with:
- Whether local governments should still be obligated to engage in collective bargaining with employees.
- Even if collective bargaining is required, which subjects will not be subject to bargaining but will be left to the discretion of the local government employer.
- No matter what public employee unions can bargain over, will all automatic wage and benefit changes continue to occur even after contract expiration (the “evergreen doctrine”).
- Whether public employee contracts should permit employees to use paid time to carry out union business.
- Will public employee unions be required to annually disclose financial information. (See why this issue is important here and in the next bullet point).
- Whether taxpayer paid local government payroll systems should be used to provide unions with free payroll deduction services for union dues and political contributions. (Of course without transparency of union finances that innocent-sounding “dues” deduction could include money the unions use for political purposes. See the preceding bullet point on the transparency issue).
- Whether and how the public employee pension statute (PERS) is changed.
- Whether union protesters should be given a pass on complying with the Nevada stalking laws. (See NRS 200.575 (g)(1).)
- Whether contractors (and ultimately the taxpayers) working on Nevada public construction projects must pay the union dictated “prevailing” wage and benefit rate.
- Whether employers should be subject to the risk of a defamation suit just because they try to tell their side of the story. (See why this issue is important here.)
The public employee collective bargaining reforms will be in play because conservatives will insist on changes in return for supporting any tax proposals. The debate will be off to a good start especially thanks to some excellent ideas set out in Las Vegas Review Journal editorials here and here. In addition, the assembly caucus has hired a former NPRI staffer and he will have a serious game plan.
Expect unions to mobilize quickly—especially the large international unions that represent both local government employees and private employers. The ones to watch are the SEIU, Teamsters, Operating Engineers and of course the Firefighters. Even if the unions feign a willingness to agree to certain “reforms” Republicans will be very cautious. The last time there were “compromises” the very adept union lobbyists who know every nuance in NRS 288 were able to avoid giving up anything significant.