Nevada District Court rules that nonunion employees don’t have to go through union officials to file a grievance
Clark County, NV (July 31, 2009) – A Nevada District Court has just ruled in favor of a Clark County construction management inspector, reaffirming the right of all Nevada public employees to pursue workplace complaints individually rather than rely on unwanted union officials to navigate the grievance process.
In January 2007, Mathew Burke filed a formal grievance with the Clark County Human Resources Office, alleging that his supervisor forced him to perform duties outside the scope of his employment. The County dismissed Burke’s complaint, indicating that any grievance should go through union officials despite Burke’s nonunion status and his lack of confidence in the union’s effectiveness.
With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, Burke subsequently challenged that decision at the Nevada Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board. Burke testified that as a nonunion employee, he was unsatisfied with being represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1107, the monopoly bargaining agent for his employer. Despite protests from County and SEIU officials, the Board ruled that Burke had the right to file individual grievances related to the terms of his employment without the union’s involvement.
Clark County officials then requested judicial review of the Board’s decision, claiming that under the union’s collective bargaining agreement, employees are not permitted to pursue individual workplace grievances. After reviewing the facts of the case, District Court Judge Douglas Herndon ruled in Burke’s favor, stating that Nevada law allows nonunion public employees to file complaints without union interference.
“Mr. Burke’s experience reveals the fundamental injustice of monopoly bargaining,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Workers should be able to file grievances and represent themselves individually, free from the interference of union officials who may not have their best interests at heart or who may even be in collusion with management.”