Prospects for Collective Bargaining Revisions
By Kent Ervin, Past President, NFA
The Nevada Faculty Alliance’s bill to authorize collective bargaining for NSHE professional employees, AB224, was passed by the 2023 legislature on a bipartisan basis—further in the process than in our prior two attempts—but was vetoed by Governor Lombardo along with a record 74 other bills. What are the prospects moving forward?
- Because AB224 was vetoed after the end of the 2023 session, it will come back to the legislature in 2025 for a possible override vote. Such votes to reconsider are rare—legislators usually prefer to start fresh with the Governor in a new session. However, the record number of post-session vetoes by the Governor is also unique. An override vote would require two-thirds supermajorities in both houses. Democrats had a 28-14 supermajority in the Assembly in 2023, but with 13-8 were one short in the Senate. There are at least three Senate seats that could flip in the 2024 general election and several Assembly swing seats are in the balance. Even if an override for AB224 is possible by the numbers, it is uncertain how its effective date of July 1, 2023, or the appropriation from the 2023-2025 general fund to support the administration of collective bargaining would be handled.
- If an override for AB224/2023 is not in the cards, a new bill could be introduced in the 2025 session. The hearings on AB224 and negotiations with NSHE and other stakeholders resulted in changes that should ease the process, but the bill would likely need to be rewritten if the amendment to remove the Board of Regents from the state constitution is approved by the voters in 2024. An unknown will be the position of the new NSHE interim chancellor and administration. Under Acting Chancellor Erquiaga, NSHE was officially neutral but fought AB224 through unreasonable fiscal notes and evident lobbying with the Governor—despite a majority of the regents being in support of the bill it was never brought for a vote on an official position by the Board of Regents. Prospects for a new collective bargaining bill depend on the makeup of the legislature and on engagement with the Governor.
- In Spring 2022, the NFA proposed revisions to the internal NSHE Professional Staff Collective Bargaining Regulations (Title 4, Chapter 4 of the NSHE Handbook) and worked with the Council of Faculty Senate Chairs to get the proposal on the agenda for the Board of Regents. Acting Chancellor Erquiaga put a stop to that before the proposal reached the Board, with the excuse that changes were also being proposed through legislation and would need to be changed again if passed. NSHE policy cannot go as far as statute (for example, providing access to the state Government Employees–Management Relations Board) and Title 4 does not have the force of law, but the current Handbook provisions are obsolete and self-contradictory and need to be updated. Handbook revisions can be proposed either through the Faculty Senates or directly with regents.
The Nevada Faculty Alliance will be engaging will all decision-makers to pursue these options to establish more mainstream standards for collective bargaining for faculty and other professional employees. The NFA Political Action Committee will also be active in promoting candidates who are supportive of collective bargaining.