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Union secures longevity pay for eligible state employees after suing

Eligible workers will earn at least $100 in bonuses twice a year. The agreement also ensures all employees will receive an 11 percent annual raise in July.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
State Government

The union representing a large number of state employees in Nevada has reached a deal to ensure that eligible employees can participate in an incentive program that boosts salaries for the state’s longest-tenured employees.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 4041 announced Thursday that it had struck a settlement outside of court with the state to guarantee that highly rated union members with at least eight years of continuous service will be eligible for the state’s recently revived longevity pay program. The agreement also ensured that all state employees will receive the 11 percent annual raise in July that the Legislature appropriated last year.

“This is a victory for workers and our ability to organize. By having a strong union, we held the state accountable for what we won in the legislature,” Michael Ahlmeyer, an AFSCME member and maintenance repair specialist at Truckee Meadows Community College, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Legislature last year passed AB522, also known as the state worker pay bill, which revived a longevity pay program that was scrapped in 2015. The program gives eligible state workers who received at least a “standard” rating a bonus of at least $100 every six months, with longer-serving employees receiving higher bonuses.

In November, AFSCME sued the state after the Department of Administration determined that the longevity pay would only be available to unclassified employees — typically those in leadership positions — and employees who were not members of a unit covered under a collective bargaining agreement.

In a lawsuit filed in Carson City District Court, the union’s lawyers argued that state law made no eligibility distinction based on union membership. AFSCME was represented by Nathan Ring, the spouse of Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) and the prior counsel of several other Nevada unions. 

AFSCME — which represents more than 17,000 state employees — still has an active lawsuit against the state over Gov. Joe Lombardo’s veto of a bill that would have funded a retroactive pay increase awarded to state workers as part of a 2021 arbitration agreement. A district court judge ruled against the union in November, but an appeal is pending before the state Supreme Court.

The state worker pay bill was a key issue in last year’s legislative session, as leaders sparred over how to make state employment more attractive amid high vacancy rates. State workers ultimately secured $500 retention bonuses and a historically large 12 percent cost of living adjustment for most state workers in the 2024 fiscal year.

This story was updated on 3/15/24 at 10:22 a.m. to include that the deal was reached outside of court.


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