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December 11, 2014 / jimnv

Collective Bargaining for State Employees? Is This Possible?

Yesterday the US Supreme Court unanimously decided that temporary workers in Amazon warehouses were not entitled to pay while going through mandated security checks. The company, Integrity Staffing Solutions was not paying workers for standing in line though compulsory security audits. Integrity Staffing Solutions provides employees for Amazon, and their employees may not unionize.

Justice Clarence Thomas stated this:

“Finally, respondents’ claim that the screenings are compensable be-cause Integrity Staffing could have reduced the time to a de minimis amount is properly presented at the bargaining table, not to a court in an FLSA claim. ”

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-433_5h26.pdf

It appears Thomas is saying, the only way for non-unionized workers to address their grievances is to become unionized.

Could Thomas’ statement affect all state employees who like the Amazon warehouse workers do not have collective bargaining rights? Only local public employees (county, city) have collective bargaining rights in Nevada. Can Nevada laws precluding collective bargaining for state workers be challenged, even overturned? Perhaps. If I were a union attorney, I would be looking into this.

State employees cannot expect help from the governor or the legislature.

 

 

November 29, 2014 / jimnv

PERS Contribution Will Go Up in 2015

State employee retirement is only from NV PERS because they do not pay into Social Security.

Because people are living longer while retired, the amount active employees must pay into their retirement system must increase to keep it solvent. Starting July 1, 2015, the retirement contribution will be 14 percent of their salary. The net effect will reduce take-home pay by 1.15 percent.

As usual, it is unlikely state employees will get a cost of living adjustment to help with this.

On the positive side … the PERS portfolio grew by 17.6 percent and is now $33.6 billion. The unfunded liability was reduced by 3.1 percent.

 State employee haters will undoubtedly try again to destroy PERS in the 2015 legislative session, but they will fail because they lie.
November 29, 2014 / jimnv

Will they will even talk about it?

“It” is taxes.

The 2015 legislative session begins February 2 nd next year. Before each session news stories suggest the governor and legislative leaders are talking about tax reform and just maybe, something will happen.

It hasn’t for decades.

Tax reform is never straightforward and for Nevada it is crucial we have a modern and flexible system that meets our needs. It is a duty our legislature seems incapable of achieving.

Nevada’s taxing scheme is an amalgam of unstable revenue streams. It worked a half century ago, but the patches applied since then barely make it functional today.

I have little confidence in the legislature’s tax reform promises. The best result will be more revenue patches applied to a creaky system. But, never challenge the legislature’s capacity to make things worse. The “worst case scenario” could be a disastrous 30 percent cut in the current state budget.

At the end of the 2015 legislative session, Nevadans will still have a tax system more dysfunctional than the people talking about it. Based on past performance, it is a standard I think the legislature can continue to meet.

November 14, 2014 / jimnv

Will Sandoval Quit? Hell yeah!!

The national media,whatever that is, believes Sandoval will seriously consider quitting his job as governor in two years. Senator Heller believes he will and Sandoval just needs some time to make his decision.

Will he quit? Hell yes! He is a quitter after all. It’s all about him and always has been and will be.

Of course Sandoval’s current public position is that he will serve his full term. Notice he used the word “intention” so there is wiggle-room if he decides to change his mind. Ever the politician.

He would really like to beat Harry Reid in 2016 and maybe it’s time for Reid to retire but this is about what Sandoval is as a man. Words and promises mean nothing to him. It’s about “wiggle room” and “intention”.

Checkout a short article I found about this:

http://onpolitics.usatoday.com/2014/11/12/sandoval-senate-reid-2016-nevada/

August 13, 2014 / jimnv

State Employees Pay Their Way

A recent article about health insurance for state employees explained how they pay their fair share. This is contrary to Sandoval’s narrative that state employees are takers.

The referenced report is by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. See also, State Health Care Spending page.

For the report go to: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2014/08/state-employee-health-plan-spending

PEBP executive director, Jim Wells said he had to look over the figures in the report before he could comment.  I am certain he is scratching his head, trying to figure out a way to make state employees look bad despite the facts. He has been attacking bothe active and retired state employees by saying the health insurance program was in the red when it wasn’t. His response to the faux budget crisis a few years ago was to raise premiums and deductibles resulting in too much money in the reserve accounts. A clear indicatoion of incompetence on his part.

Here are some highlights in the report:

Nevada state employees pay a much larger share of their health insurance premiums than public employees in other states.

The overall cost for the Nevada’s health program has decreased by 10 percent from 2011 through 2013 while national costs went up 2 percent.

Nevada pays just 26 percent of the health insurance premium. Some states pay all the premium.

Employees with individual coverage pay 19 percent of their premium compared to 13 percent nationally. For those with dependents, state employees pay 28 of their premium cost compared with 20 percent nationally.

I have talked to many state employees. None like paying premiums, but then who does? Also, no one believes they should get a free ride, and they expect to pay a reasonable amount for their health care.

I am not asking for a premium reduction. I am asking for honesty and openness. It seems the Sandoval administration finds this hard to do.

May 26, 2014 / jimnv

Sandoval’s Plans Have Been Stopped

During the 2015 legislative session, the Sandoval administration was going to propose a process to dump all state employees into the government’s health care exchange system. Shifting health care to the exchanges would eliminate the state’s direct costs. For example, Nevada’s Public Employee Benefits Program and its bureaucracy would be eliminated.

Current state employees have health insurance but this new patient dumping plan was to give state employees their health subsidy amount and let them find insurance for themselves. Further, they planned to reduce the current health insurance subsidy thereby shifting more heath care costs to state employees (active and retired).

The IRS regulates the affordable health care act has decided this will not be allowed. This decision has luckily blocked any move by Sandoval to dump state employees into exchanges. The Affordable Health Care Act is suppose to build on existing employer based health coverage and dumping may not part of the plan.

Take THAT governor!

All this reminds me of Sandoval’s dumping of mentally ill patients. Now it is all state employees. When will Sandoval’s mediocre management by dumping stop?

April 4, 2014 / jimnv

NV PEBP and Excess Reserves

On April 3, 2014, the Nevada Public Employee Benefits Program board decided to restore benefits lost during The Great Recession by depleting it $54 million excess reserves.  Some changes for the 2016-2017 biennium are:

Annual dental coverage will be $1,500 instead of $1,000.

Co-insurance coverage will be 80 percent after deductibles are paid.

Northern Nevada HMO participants will pay $300 for outpatient surgery and the in-patient hospitalization co-payment dropped to $500 from $1,000.

Southern Nevada HMO participants will see some increases. For example, a specialist visit will be $25 instead of $15 and an ER visit will be $150 instead of $75. Northern Nevada participants pay more.

Active member life insurance will be $25,000 instead of $10,000. For retired members their life insurance will be $12,500.

The issue here is not just about what people will pay in the future but why the excess reserves are so high year after year. Excess reserves come directly from the pockets of participants and show the incompetence of NV PEBP management. I have said repeatedly … Executive Director Wells must be fired; he should not be allowed to resign for any reason. Wells has consistently shown his antipathy toward state employees by making them unnecessarily pay more for their health benefits. This is bad management.

This governor’s man must go… now!

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