Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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las vegas city hall:

Tentative deal reached with fire union

City firefighters would receive no cost-of-living raises for two years

After four months of tough negotiations, the union representing Las Vegas firefighters has finally reached a tentative accord with the city on a two-year contract calling for no cost-of-living raises, sources confirm.

The deal must be approved by both the City Council and the 620 members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1285 before it takes effect.

If approved, firefighters would see smaller pay increases than the three other unions that represent city workers agreed to when they approved contract extensions earlier in the year.

But a source, who asked not to be identified because the contract hasn’t been approved, said firefighters had gained other concessions from the city to make up for the lack of cost-of-living raises.

“They didn’t just give up the COLA. They got something for it,” the official said. “They didn’t give up the store.”

Dean Fletcher, president of the union, confirmed that a tentative deal had been struck. But he declined to provide details about the concessions or benefits.

Fletcher also declined to say whether he was working to persuade the rank and file to vote for the agreement when they cast ballots Monday and Tuesday.

“I don’t want to get into that right now,” Fletcher said. “The members are the ones who say ‘yea’ or ‘nay.’ ”

The city’s firefighters have been working without a contract since June 14, when their last contract ended. Since March, the two sides have met at least a half-dozen times to hash out a deal.

The three other unions representing city workers cut contract-extension deals with the city in January and February.

Those deals were struck after Mayor Oscar Goodman threatened layoffs if the unions were unwilling to agree to concessions. Three-quarters of the city’s budget is made up of labor and benefits costs, said city officials who warned of a budget shortfall stretching to $150 million over the next five years.

On Jan. 5, the largest group of city workers, represented by the Las Vegas City Employees’ Association, ratified a three-year extension to their collective bargaining agreement with the city, which will be in effect until 2014. The workers agreed to have their cost-of-living raises reduced by 1 percentage point, from 3.5 percent to 2.5 percent. Employees also receive additional merit and “step” raises — automatic pay hikes for certain positions — which were kept.

The following day, the detention officers union, called the Las Vegas Peace Officers Association, approved an agreement in which they also gave up 1 percentage point of their cost-of-living raises in the contract’s second year, as well as small reductions in their uniform and equipment allowances and health care contributions.

In February, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which bargains for the city’s marshals, agreed in its one-year deal to a reduced cost-of-living bump of 0.96 percent, as well as equipment and uniform allowance reductions.

The proposed lack of a cost-of-living raise for the city’s firefighters might be less than what other city workers are getting, but it’s not unprecedented.

Uniformed Metro Police officers, represented by the same union as city marshals, in April ratified a new contract without a cost-of-living increase for the current fiscal year. Metro’s contract maintains step raises for officers with less than 10 years on the job — which amount to pay hikes of about 4 percent — and keeps their current health benefits.

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