(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – A local government agency waded into Nevada Business coalitions’s lawsuit against Clark County’s use of a union-favoring agreement under some pretty interesting circumstances. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority submitted an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court”, brief supporting the Clark County Commission’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Agencies such as this submit these types of briefs all the time. However, the decision to file this brief was not the result of a vote of the LVCVA board but came at the direction of a single board member. And not just any board member at that.
LVCVA’s legal team was instructed to file this brief by LVCVA Board Chairman Tom Collins. Collins is also a member of the Board of Commissioners of Clark County (BOCC).
As a member of the BOCC, Collins voted to attach a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) to the Detention Center project. The PLA is an agreement between local unions and the County that contractors would have to sign to obtain the contract and that a District Court judge ruled illegally favored unions over non-union workers and contractors. Collins voted to appeal the District Court’s decision invalidating the PLA to the Nevada Supreme Court and he was the only member of the BOCC who voted against the recent decision to proceed with Phase 1 of this project without the PLA.
The Commission elected to strip the PLA from Phase 1 to avoid delaying that urgent project any further but at the same time voted to govern Phases 2 and 3 with the same PLA. At the County Commission meeting in which this decision was made Collins explained his vote by stating he would not support going forward with the project without the language containing the PLA.
Not all members of the LVCVA board are the unabashed supporters of PLA’s that Collins is. On a number of occasions during her mayoral campaign, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman expressed her opposition to PLA’s. Since her election Goodman has claimed this stance was responsible for her receiving only one local union’s endorsement.
Yet the LVCVA’s legal team, as per its current standard procedure, acted at the direction of a single board member. “If that is the instruction then that’s exactly what we’ll have to do,” responded their representative after Collins’s delivered his directive at the meeting.
Collins justified his instruction to file the amicus brief by stating, “We’ve got a new judge in town and he just got elected and he’s still learning some of the rules, in my opinion.” The “new judge” refers to District Court Judge Jerry Wiese who ruled that portions of the PLA violate state law because they unfairly favor unions over non-union contractors and workers.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority inserted itself into the lawsuit over Clark County’s use of a union-favoring PLA. And all it took was one board member, one who has made decisions affecting the case, to force it to do so.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)