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Finally, a seat at the table for Nevada state workers

Members of the Nevada bargaining team are pictured. Local 4041 President Harry Schiffman is in the upper right hand corner.
By Cyndy Hernandez ·

It’s been years in the making, but Nevada state employees have finally taken their seat at the bargaining table.

After winning collective bargaining rights in 2019 and certifying AFSCME as the exclusive representative for four bargaining units this year, members of the Local 4041 bargaining team have begun negotiating their first contract.

“This is historic,” said Harry Schiffman, an electrician at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and president of AFSCME Local 4041. “After years of fighting for our right to have our voices heard, we are underway, working on our first contract that will set the foundation for changes to how state workers are treated and how we have a say in state services, our working conditions and our lives.”

Bargaining looks different amid a global pandemic. But the process is still the same: workers are coming together (using video conferencing) to have a say in their working conditions and lives.

“This is about us – regular workers being able to sit at the table with our employer and finally having a say on what being a state employee means,” said Stephanie Dube, a custodial worker at Desert Willow Treatment Center and a bargaining team member. “It’s empowering to be at the table as equals with management. This is something we’ve never had before, and we won’t take for granted.”

For a state as big and diverse as Nevada, workers have the challenging task of crafting a contract that will reflect the needs of all state employees – from those who work in urban centers to those who live or work in Nevada’s many rural and small towns.

“I am proud of how we are really working together to take into consideration the needs of all state employees, regardless of location,” said Dr. Casha Kaufer, a clinical licensed psychologist at the Carson Rural Clinics. “Being a union means fighting for what is fair for all workers and getting to decisions that are best for the collective. I enjoy being on the bargaining team and feel like I can be a voice for rural or small-town workers and the communities we serve.”

The Local 4041 bargaining team has a way to go until a tentative agreement is reached and can be presented to the membership for a vote. Team members agree that that this experience has taught them much about the negotiation process and why certifying as AFSCME was the right choice for Nevada state employees.

“As AFSCME, we are part of a national team with decades of experience and the knowledge that comes from negotiating contracts in different states,” said Jason O’Dea, a senior correctional officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections. “There is so much that goes into creating this first contract. One word can change the dynamic of the intent of what we are trying to create. We’re laying the groundwork for directional change for Nevada state employees that we can build on for years to come.”

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