LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County Education Association said it will file a lawsuit to invalidate a Nevada statute that makes it illegal for public sector employees to strike.
The CCEA made the announcement during a march and rally held on Saturday morning near the steps of the federal courthouse located near Las Vegas Boulevard and Bridger Avenue.
“On Monday, we will file a case against the Nevada law that we feel is unconstitutional, and prohibits our ability to strike,” CCEA President Marie Neisess told a crowd of several thousand teachers.
Contract negotiations between CCEA and the Clark County School District are at an impasse, and both sides are not any closer to an agreement.
Teachers started their march Saturday under the Fremont Street Experience canopy near Main Street and walked to the courthouse rallying for what they’ve been asking since March – better pay.
“CCSD’s got 99 problems but money ain’t one of them. Money ain’t one of them,” Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Clark County, told the crowd.
Sen. Cannizzaro was one of several lawmakers on Saturday who mentioned the historic funding in education legislator passed this most recent session.
John Vellardita, who is the chief negotiator for CCEA, said the union has left no choice but to file a lawsuit on Monday, challenging a statute that prevents public sector employees from striking.
Nevada lawmakers passed a law in 1969 making it illegal for government employees to strike.
Amid several schools closing due to teachers calling out sick, a district court judge last month issued an injunction against CCEA preventing any more strikes. It fines teachers up to $1,000 a day if they strike.
“The whole idea behind it is this has got to end. We are losing a school year. The arbitration process is taking forever,” Vellardita said.
Contract negotiations between CCSD and CCEA are now before an arbitrator, which the teacher’s union plans to meet with next week.
“It doesn’t benefit students. It doesn’t benefit the licensed professionals, staff, or educators. It doesn’t benefit anyone but [Jesus] Jara,” Vellardita said.
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara announced a new offer this week to teachers. 9% the first year and 3.3% the second year.
The district said the second year could go up to 8.4% if funds from Senate Bill 231 are applied.
The offer is still less than what CCEA wants.
“I have a hard time living in Las Vegas off of $50,000. There’s just so many things that are broken with the school district,” Elliott Nilsson, a teacher at Paul Culley Elementary, said. “I end up paying for things out of my own pocket because there’s just no money, paper, pencils. You name it.”
Among its demands, CCEA is asking for a 10% increase in the first year and 8% in the second year. They also want a $5,000 bonus for teachers who work at Title 1 schools.
In a statement regarding CCEA’s rally, CCSD said:
CCSD’s latest offer would increase licensed educator pay by 17.4 percent, nearly reaching CCEA’s initial demand. The offer also maintained the other incentives to promote equity across the pay schedule.
The District hopes one would recognize CCSD’s movement toward an agreement over the past three months.