Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

Currently: 74° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Las Vegas firefighters, city still at contract impasse

Major sticking point: city’s request for 3 percent salary cut

Although other city employees have agreed to pay cuts for the upcoming year, firefighters have balked at a 3 percent rollback in salaries, the Las Vegas City Council was told Wednesday.

The rollback — a cut of $2.1 million in firefighter salaries — is the main reason a federal mediator will be brought in this month to help reach agreement, Dan Tarwater, the city’s human resources director, told the council Wednesday.

“We’re still far apart in our negotiations,” Tarwater said.

At the sixth meeting April 27, the firefighters’ union, International Association of Fire Fighters, announced an impasse, Tarwater said.

“Basically, we’re stuck,” Tarwater said. “We have not reached an agreement with this contract.”

Lavonne Ritter, a mediator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Las Vegas, will meet with both sides June 13 and June 15.

“We hope that works and we don’t have to go any further,” Tarwater said.

The city has also, on a parallel path, filed for fact-finding, and has selected Norman Brand as a fact-finder, Tarwater said. Brand served as an arbitrator between Clark County and county firefighters.

Mediation, fact-finding and arbitration are all outlined in state law, he said. Fact-finding is a process by which a labor dispute is investigated, evidence is presented to a fact-finder and a written report is issued by the fact-finder, setting forth recommendations for a settlement.

“So we’re very hopeful that we will settle this in the mediation process, but not to slow it down in case we don’t, we filed for the fact-finding process at the same time,” Tarwater said.

The reason the city wants to cut salaries by 3 percent is because last year, when negotiators were looking at reducing cost of living allowance costs, firefighters were given credit for already reducing their salaries by 2 percent, or about $2 million, he said.

“This year there is no credit. We did not budget for a cost of living increase, and that’s why we proposed a 3 percent rollback in wages,” he said.

Tarwater said they had also told firefighter negotiators that if a rollback wasn’t acceptable, they proposed some changes in operating procedures the fire chief has recommended that would cut overtime wages.

“Those two items were discussed back and forth between the union and the city’s team,” he said.

So far, both sides have agreed that firefighters will not get a cost of living increase next year, he said. They have also agreed on the city reducing its medical contributions from $450 to $360 per month, amounting to a savings of $1.4 million.

Still at odds are the city’s request not to give a uniform allowance of $1,500 per firefighter.

Firefighters have also agreed to reductions in their step increases of $450,000 and agreed to eliminate $450,000 they were given as an incentive to fill out paperwork.

The city also wants the contract to be for only one year, he said.

“We think that we still are going to be looking for concessions and more from our unions and our executive and appointive (employee groups) to get through the next two or three years,” Tarwater said.

He said the city also wants to hire 18 more qualified candidates from other agencies as a way to cut down on the cost of overtime.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 4 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Firefighting should be outsourced to Anderson Dairy. The new title for fire fighters will be "Firemilkers" and they will put out fires with expired milk.

  2. Just get rid of the fire department all together and hire a private company to do it.

  3. so the fire fighters get to say who gets hired,they get to say who gets trained,the have all the power and still i wonder who really needs them,we can go to a volunteer program and save lots of money,why we need fire fighter paramedics is beyond me

  4. The Sun reporter must have missed the 3 million dollars for office furniture for the new city hall and the 1/2 million dollars for the Symphony Park sign at the council meeting today.
    What are the priorities of the City????
    LV Sun bought and paid for by local governments