Monday, March 16, 2015

Nevada Teamsters rally against lawmakers' attacks on workers

Teamsters and other union members rallied outside of the Nevada Statehouse last week to protest lawmakers' attacks on workers. For the first time since 1929, Republicans control the Legislature and the governor's office. They are using their power to lower wages, weaken unions and attack the public employee retirement system

Business Agent Fran Almaraz from Teamsters Local 631 in Las Vegas tells us Nevada lawmakers say the rallies really do make a difference. The lawmakers love the Teamster truck (who doesn't?), and some even asked for multiple trucks at the next rally!

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the action:
About 200 demonstrators cheered in the early morning chill when Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, told them to remind lawmakers that voters can remove them from office. 
Demonstrators regrouped for another rally in the afternoon, where they were joined by other lawmakers who pledged their support for worker issues and urged them to take turn their anger into action at the ballot box in 2016. 
Republicans gained control of both legislative chambers in November for the first time in decades, largely because Democratic voters stayed home on Election Day. 
“If you name an issue that helps the middle class, they have a bill to screw it up,” AFL-CIO boss Danny Thompson told the afternoon crowd.
(Nice use of the word 'boss,' eh?)

The Nevada Legislature is assaulting the middle class in several ways:
  • Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a bill that removes school and university construction projects from prevailing wage laws.
  • Another bill would require local governments to publicize details of their proposed contracts with unions at least 10 days before they come up for a vote.
  • A third bill would remove the requirement for employers to pay overtime to employees who work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period.
  • A fourth bill would let local governments reopen union contracts if tax collections fall by 5 percent compared to the previous year. 
  • A paycheck deception bill would forbid local governments from honoring employees' requests to deduct their union dues from their paychecks. 
  • Finally, they want to replace the public employee retirement system -- i.e., a guaranteed pension -- with a smaller pension and a 401(k) plan. 
The AFL-CIO's Thompson told The Atlantic that unions don't have the votes to stop the anti-union laws. But, he said,
...there will come a time when these people have to run for reelection, and they’re going to have some explaining to do.