Big Labor Payback: Sisolak Delivers Bargaining to Government Unions

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While Wisconsin was busy curtailing monopoly bargaining privileges to its government employees, Nevada Big labor has snagged a huge payback from Governor Steve Sisolak.

Since 1965 there has been a law on the books prohibiting monopoly bargaining for public employees in Nevada.  Governor Sisolak recently signed legislation granting government employees the right negotiate wages, pensions and work rules for approximately 20,000 employees.   Check out the story on the Wall Street Journal by the Editorial Board.

In effect the unions will now be on both sides of the negotiating table as they demand more money from the Governor they helped elect. Taxpayers won’t be represented because Mr. Sisolak will want to reward his union benefactors. This is why public unions differ from industrial unions that negotiate with a single private employer, and why Franklin Roosevelt opposed unions for public workers.

Nevada Democrats claim the law includes checks on wage and benefit increases. If Mr. Sisolak doesn’t like the result of negotiations, he can include “any amount of money that the Governor deems appropriate” in his proposed budget. A collective-bargaining agreement must also include a clause stipulating that “any provision” that “requires the Legislature to appropriate money is effective only to the extent of the legislative appropriation.”

But in practice this merely means that Democrats in the Legislature will have to be involved in the bargaining. And their incentive is to reward the unions too. Labor negotiations are exempt from the state’s open-meeting requirements, so the deal will emerge from the backrooms as a fait accompli.

This is the way it always works. Illinois and Connecticut are classic examples as public unions effectively run the state governments. In both states unfunded pension liabilities are more than 45% of the gross state product, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates that Nevada can expect to spend an additional $1.7 billion to $1.75 billion annually by 2036. That comes to $579 to $596 per resident a year. Mr. Sisolak won’t admit it, but in signing this bill he has started the clock ticking on the date that unions and Democrats lobby to impose a state income tax.

“We would like to note that there seems to be little debate among researchers and analysts who have studied the collective bargaining issue that government costs will increase,” the Chamber notes. “The debate generally focuses on what the policy response should be. Should government raise taxes, should it reallocate spending from other areas to accommodate the additional costs or should it do a combination of tax increases and spending reallocations?”