The Clark County Education Association filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to overturn the state’s longtime ban on public employee strikes.
The teachers union, which represents about 18,000 licensed employees, filed the complaint in District Court against the state of Nevada and Clark County School District.
The union is seeking a court declaration saying that several provisions under state law related to strikes are unconstitutional and invalid.
The state statute that prohibits public employee strikes “impermissibly impinges upon the fundamental rights of speech and association of CCEA and its members, is overbroad, void for vagueness, and is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest,” according to the complaint.
The court filing comes after the Clark County School District declared an impasse last month in collective bargaining with the union after 11 negotiation sessions since late March.
It’s unclear what’s currently happening with the arbitration process, including whether an arbitrator has been selected or a hearing date set. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has requested information from the district, but hasn’t received details.
The last Nevada teacher strike was in 1969 and the state legislature passed a law later that year prohibiting public employee strikes.
Those who violate the law can face steep penalties, including fines up to $50,000 each day for a union and up to $1,000 each day for union officers.
The 2021-23 collective bargaining agreement between the district and union also prohibits strikes, saying the union agrees there will be “no strikes, stoppages of work or slowdown of the operations of the School District.”
Terms of the agreement remain in effect until a new one is reached.
Union members have held protests since July amid collective bargaining, including a march and rally Saturday in downtown Las Vegas.
Thousands of educators also rallied outside two school board meetings in August. Others packed the meeting room, some chanting and yelling.
Three teachers were removed by police from one meeting and two received a citation for disturbing the peace.
Last month, a district judge declared a teacher strike had occurred and granted a school district request for a preliminary injunction. It came after eight schools closed for one day each due to unexpected staffing shortages.
In late July, the district also filed a petition with the state’s Employee-Management Relations Board seeking to remove the union’s bargaining agent status.
The union denied any involvement with the school closures and filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court.
The court denied a request for an emergency motion for stay, but the appeal remains pending.
In a response last week to a Review-Journal inquiry from September, the school district said students at the eight campuses that were closed will have to make up that school day.
The district didn’t respond to a follow-up question about when that will occur. The school year calendar includes three contingency days: Nov. 22, April 26 and May 21.
The district also said the superintendent makes the decision about when to close a school.
As for whether there was discussion about deploying central office or other licensed personnel to affected schools, the district wrote: “All viable options are considered and utilized when possible.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.