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January 28, 2015

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Union member: ‘A huge insult’:

UMC employees to take 2 percent pay cut

Pay decrease will save the county $4.4 million over a year


Sam Morris / File photo

University Medical Center is Clark County's only publicly funded hospital.

UMC Pay Cuts

KSNV coverage of pay cuts at University Medical Center, Aug. 16, 2011.

Against the wishes of about 3,000 unionized University Medical Center workers, Clark County commissioners approved a binding agreement to cut union pay by 2 percent and force members to pay back to the county about $280 each.

That means UMC employees will see $13 less in their paychecks every two weeks for 21 pay periods.

Before the vote to approve the pay cut — it passed on 5-2 vote with Commissioners Lawrence Weekly and Tom Collins voting no — Collins argued against members paying anything back. The debate extended to state law, the definition of “retroactive pay,” and other topics as commissioners strongly sympathetic to the union tried to negate the $280 payback.

The requirement that employees pay back part of their wages was forced by an agreement struck in April between the county and the union. UMC union members had refused to ratify an agreement between the county and their union, the Service Employees International Union.

The two sides went to an arbitrator, with both agreeing to abide by whatever the arbitrator said and that the new contract would be effective May 3, 2010.

Months later, the arbitrator chose the county’s proposal to cut pay 2 percent — the same pay cut endured by SEIU members who work for other county agencies. But because the pay cut was retroactive, union members would have to return that 2 percent they were paid between May 3 and when the two sides agreed to a final contract.

SEIU President Al Martinez said he was “taken aback” when he learned about the payback provision. He claimed that portion of the agreement was signed after binding arbitration, which might make it less binding.

A county lawyer, however, said the May 3 provision was signed by an SEIU representative in April.

UMC nurses and others pleaded with commissioners not to force them to pay back money.

“I don’t know if there’s a union in America that’s had to give back what they already had,” one member said. “I think the 2 percent cut, the 2 percent retroactive (payback) was a huge insult.”

Ed Euhling, a businessman who often speaks at commission meetings, urged commissioners to stick with the agreement.

“Here we have all these tears shed for these employees,” he said. “And here we have 200,000 people (in Las Vegas) who have lost their jobs. Not 2 percent of their pay, but 100 percent of their pay.”

The 2 percent pay cut over a year will save the county $4.4 million. Merit pay maximums for union members will be capped at 3.4 percent instead of 6 percent, saving about $248,000. In total, the county will save about $4.6 million from concessions in the contract.

If the UMC workers were allowed to keep that $280 each, the savings would be $1.1 million less.

Commissioners argued over the definition of retroactive and whether they could alter the binding agreement.

The county’s attorney, Mary Ann Miller, said that if commissioners were to alter one part of the agreement, they could reasonably expect another concession from the union.

“It’s $1.1 million,” she added. “You don’t give it away without getting something in return. Doing that would raise the question that you are violating your fiduciary duty.”

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  1. Everytime people justify the poor treatment of the American Worker with the claim "they are lucky at least they have a job", they further erode everything this country has worked for. While it is true that people are lucky to still have jobs, employers are now using this kind of mentality to cut benefits and pay while increasing workload and often becoming verbally abusive to their employees. The end result is not going to be positive for the American Workforce. I am sorry for those that do not have jobs but when the day comes that the economy is better and you return to the workforce you are going to find that your basic rights and benefits as an employee have been stripped away by companies that have taken your cries of "the are lucky to have a job" to heart and used them against everyone.
    UMC nurses already make less an hour than every private sector in town. They knew this going in and have done their jobs at a lower rate of pay because they care for the residents of Las Vegas. Most of the time they are taking care of people that are indigent, incredibily sick or have been dumped at UMC because the hospitals refuse to treat them without complaint. They have a right to feel slighted when their already low pay is lowered again. When you have completed the schooling and training for a job you expect to receive comparable wages. I am tired of people expecting those working for the county or state to take pay and benefit cuts when those in the private sector would be screaming how unfair it is. It doesn't matter if their salaries are paid with tax dollars, they still do their job and deserve a decent wage for it.

  2. the 2% Obama SS employee tax cut pays for that $14 so everything is not so bad. The problem is you have a company with low revenue because so many customers are treated for free. It is a bad business model and therefore a bad business to work for. I am sure many stay because of necessity or convenience but anyone employee can get another job somewhere else anytime they want, their is no contract you have to stay. My business income is down 15% this year so a 2% decrease seems very good, wish I could have that deal.. The glass is half full or half empty.

  3. A 2% decrease is way better than the 100% decrease I got. Sure, I found more work, but the paid vacation, paid holidays, paid medical care are now gone too. I pay for my own medical care now, and if I want a day off, I take it with no pay. If there's no work, I get the day off with no pay, not by choice. (I use that day off to look for additional work). It's tough at times, but I'm not out there crying about it to anyone, I just made it work. I have no complaints, the above notes are merely comments on my situation, not complaints. At least I'm not a slave to a union. (Is the union leader taking a similar pay cut? I doubt it). Will the union reduce the cost of dues? I doubt it. When this terrible economy turns around, I'll be ready to take even more and higher paying work, and sacrafices I am making now will mean I will have minimal bills. I'll be LIVING BETTER, and not working union.