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July 30, 2014

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Las Vegas firefighters reach tentative pact with city

Agreement to save city $6.5 million over two years, avoid ‘brownouts’ of vehicles

After months of wrangling — and even declaring an impasse in May — Las Vegas firefighters and the city reached a tentative pact late Tuesday afternoon that's expected to save the city $6.5 million during the next two years.

The tentative agreement will next go before the Las Vegas City Council and must also be ratified by the union membership, according to a joint statement released this afternoon by the city and the International Association of Firefighters Local 1285.

The city council is expected to take up the agreement Wednesday, July 7, and IAFF members will vote Friday and next Tuesday.

If approved, the city will avoid going through arbitration proceedings.

“Reaching an agreement was critical based on the fact the city was facing an $80 million shortfall last year and looks to be facing another $50 million shortfall this coming year,” City Manager Betsy Fretwell said in a prepared statement.

“The ability to work with our bargaining units is the way we’ll be able to preserve services and jobs,” Fretwell said.

Dean Fletcher, president of the local firefighters union, said the union has been negotiating in good faith from the beginning.

"We have never had our sole focus be on our salaries or our benefits. Our negotiations have always been about public safety," Fletcher said in a prepared statement.

"Las Vegas Fire & Rescue has one of the very best records in emergency medical care in the United States and we are confident in our state-of-the-art firefighting services. We are proud that we fought with everything that we had to reach this agreement with the city to avoid brownouts that would have endangered public safety and increase response times.”

The proposed agreement is about 64 percent of what the the city had targeted in budget cuts for the fire department in the budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins Thursday, and 74 percent of the goal for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2011.

Details of the agreement include:

-- No cost of living (COLA) adjustment in Fiscal Year 2011, with the ability of both parties to reopen the contract for negotiation of cost of living and salary schedules in Fiscal Year 2012.

-- A 50-percent reduction in step increases in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012, and a reduction in the first step for new employees by 5 percent in Fiscal Year 2011.

-- No uniform allowances in Fiscal Year 2011, with the ability of both parties to reopen the contract for negotiation in Fiscal Year 2012.

-- A reduction of medical contributions by the city from $450 per pay period, per employee to $360 per pay period, per employee. In addition, instead of receiving medical contributions for 26 pay periods annually, employees will only receive them for 24 pay periods.

-- A reduction of the emergency medical system (EMS) documentation pay for paramedics by 50 percent in Fiscal Year 2011, with total elimination in Fiscal Year 2012.

-- An increase in the availability of “roving staff” to 8 percent, which will reduce overtime.

-- The city agrees not to pursue a request for proposal for the privatization of EMS services for the duration of the contract.

-- An elimination of the need for “brownouts” based on the ability to restore services through the savings in this agreement.

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