Unions rally to support Wisconsin state workers, oppose Sandoval's budget cuts

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Joining union workers in numerous other states, about 150 people turned out Monday for a rally in front of the Legislature in support of state workers in Wisconsin facing an attempt to eliminate their collective bargaining rights.

AFL-CIO director Danny Thompson said the rally had a second purpose as well to oppose Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed budget cuts.

"This is an assault on working people," said Larry Wilson, a United Auto Workers member from Reno. "It's time to take a stance."

"It's an assault on our civil rights," said Dennis Miller, a teamsters member from Reno.

Thompson told the crowd they weren't alone, that an estimated 1,200 union members turned out for a similar rally in Las Vegas.

He said it's not fair to balance the state budget on the backs of state workers "when everybody knows it's a broken tax system."

"If they do away with collective bargaining, the middle class will cease to exist," he said.

Kevin Ranft, a correctional officer and union member, said workers need to call on legislators "to stand up and do the right thing."

"I've been a state employee 11 years and they've balanced the budget on our backs for about 10 of those years," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, joined the crowd praising state workers as "providing the backbone of the services we depend on."

"There will be some cuts but there's a right way and a wrong way to make those decisions and the proposal we have is the wrong way," he said referring to Sandoval's proposed budget. "The solution is a balanced budget that is fair and does not do this on the backs of the middle class."

Unlike the Wisconsin governor, Sandoval has not proposed elimination of collective bargaining for local government employees. In fact, he decided not to back a proposal made by Gov. Jim Gibbons to eliminate collective bargaining.

While Sandoval has said some changes to the state's collective bargaining law are needed, he has declined to say what he thinks should be changed. Senior policy adviser Dale Erquiaga said Sandoval's intention is to work with lawmakers on those changes, rather than draw a hard line at the start of talks.

Earlier in the day about 20 demonstrators gathered in front of the capitol to speak out against unions.


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