Many of the labor reforms he proposed, including requiring unions to recertify periodically, are based on model legislation from ALEC, the Americans Legislative Exchange Council.
ALEC is part of the reason that some GOP-controlled states have had such success in diminishing labor's strength, Shaiken said. Overall, Republicans have found they can successfully push legislation at the state level that might go nowhere nationally. Conservative groups have pushed a national right-to-work bill for many years, for example, to no avail, but were able to pass a bill making Indiana a right-to-work state in 2012, and did the same in Michigan shortly thereafter.
"One of the things that the Koch brothers and related groups have done over the years really successfully is target state legislatures," Shaiken said. "The Republicans have significant control in this area, so it would be a surprise not to see more of this."
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After the 2014 elections, Republicans held control of 68 legislature chambers, up from 57 before the election. States including New Mexico, Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia are now considering right-to-work laws.
Rebecca Theim, a spokeswoman for the SEIU of Nevada, says her members are also concerned about proposals to change the state public-employee retirement system to a 401(k)-style plan. Efforts to do so in West Virginia failed miserably, she said. Union members are particularly concerned because people who pay into Nevada PERS don't pay into Social Security, and changing the system to a defined-contribution plan could make the fate of retirement accounts solely dependent on the ups and downs of the stock market.
"We are very concerned—there is a tremendous threat here," she said.
Another proposal would limit binding arbitration, which worries Thompson, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, because some public-sector workers in Nevada are prohibited from striking, and binding arbitration is their only means to negotiate better wages and benefits, he said.
Still another would require unions participating in collective bargaining to conduct negotiations out in the open, which labor experts say would bog down negotiations and make it more difficult for deals to be reached.
Unions say they are beginning to mobilize their members to push back against some of these proposals. Hundreds of workers turned out to protest the prevailing-wage bill in both Carson City and Las Vegas.
"We are not going to take this lying down. We are fighting right now, we are going into their districts, we're going to start knocking on doors," Thompson said.
Union members are starting to turn up to more meetings, and are getting prepared to send out mailers and write letters to legislators protesting their votes.
"This is the most activated we've seen our membership in a while," Theim said.