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August 20, 2014

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Union leader hopeful about reaching agreement with city on salary cuts

Meetings scheduled for several days next week

A union leader who represents the largest group of Las Vegas city employees expressed hope today that an agreement might come as early as next week with the city that could both balance the city's budget and keep employees from being laid off.

"We're continuing to talk and we're continuing to work on the issues," Don King, president of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, said late this afternoon.

"And hopefully we'll have something we can take to the membership that is agreeable to both sides," King said. "I don't know that that will happen, but we're trying."

King made those remarks after meeting with city representatives about the 1,036-member union's concession offer to forego a 3 percent cost of living increase next year and have employees each take 96 hours of furlough during 2011 (one day per month).

"If the city accepted that offer it would be 8.3 percent less (money) in my people's pockets next year," King said.

He said the city representatives have scheduled hour-long meetings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to talk about the union's eight-point concession offer.

"I don't see us getting there on Monday. I'm not saying we couldn't get there sometime next week," he said.

The LVCEA made the offer after the city council approved a tentative budget earlier this month that would lay off 146 city employees on June 12, including about 120 members of the union.

The layoffs would save about $38 million as part of cutbacks designed to stave off a $70 million shortfall next year.

Mayor Oscar Goodman and City Manager Betsy Fretwell have offered the LVCEA and the city's other bargaining groups the option of taking a salary cut of 8 percent this year and another 8 percent next year as a way to save all employees' jobs and keep city services from being cut.

However, none of the unions agreed to those cuts, so the City Council went ahead with the option of cutting programs and laying off employees in its tentative budget.

The LVCEA presented its concession offer last Friday, then met Wednesday with city representative to clarify the offer and again today to talk about some changes the city is suggesting.

"They're trying to talk about some other alternatives. I don't know where we are going to end up," King said, declining to divulge specifics about the meeting.

Asked about the LVCEA's offer Thursday during his weekly press conference, Mayor Oscar Goodman declined comment, saying he was to be briefed on the LVCEA concession offer later that day.

David Riggleman, the city's communications director, put out a statement this afternoon:

"Discussions with the bargaining units are ongoing. For the LVCEA, more sessions are planned to go over the eight concessions offered, and to determine the actual savings for each. As the city manager indicated in her initial letter to the unions in November, labor costs need to remain flat with employees taking an eight-percent reduction in compensation in order to achieve a balanced budget."

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