Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Fire union’s contract offer would cost an additional $12 million over two years, city says

Las Vegas officials did something Tuesday rarely seen in public.

After declaring an impasse with the city firefighters union last week, city officials gave the public the chance to see contract terms offered by the city firefighters union and by city negotiators.

Their conclusion: If the city went along with the union’s version of a two-year contract, the city’s expense for firefighters would increase $5.9 million the first year and $6.4 million the second year.

Those millions would result from union-requested wage increases equal to roughly 2.7 percent (about $2.2 million per year); a holiday-pay increase of 1.75 hours ($605,000 per year); an additional four shifts of pay if firefighters use less sick leave (an additional $906,000 annually); medical insurance benefits increase from $360 to $475 per month (an increase of $2.1 million first year and $2.5 million in the second year); and educational benefits amounting to $100,000 per year.

The city’s counter-offer included: no cost-of-living wage increases; a savings by shifting the way overtime is calculated; eliminating longevity pay for new employees and freezing it for current employees; increasing medical insurance benefits to $400 per month instead of $475; and reducing the amount of sick leave that firefighters can sell back to the city by 50 percent.

The city also offered an incentive that hasn’t been seen before in Southern Nevada. It’s called “gain-sharing,” and is akin to profit-sharing in the private sector. It means if the city saves because employees are productive and efficient, a certain amount of the money saved would be given as a bonus among all city employees.

Speaking to the dire finances facing Las Vegas, whose tax revenues have fallen like all Nevada municipalities during the recession, Councilman Bob Beers said the city’s offer was a reflection of the times. And if the union and city turned to arbitration, and if the union won, the city’s alternative might be layoffs.

“As we’re seeing now with North Las Vegas’ drama, and in the school district, when the union wins that arbitrated cost-of-living increase at a time when government has been flat for a period of time … you may have to lay off people,” said Beers, who was endorsed by the firefighters union. “There’s only so much money to go around.”

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  1. How about no raises and no givebacks until the cities/counties revenues exceed its expenses by at least 3%?

    Then any cost of living raises should be limited to what the federal COL formula specifies and increases beyond that must be performance justified with public revue.

  2. It is about time! Instead of just throwing our tax dollars around like Monopoly money, transparent and real-world negotiations are due. The union seems to come to the table like they're buying a used car; how about an offer that rightfully considers the city's economic situation and the impact on us taxpayers!

  3. Where is the NEGATIVE COLA? Lets get the pay package back down to (national)averages for firefighters, and then down to something comparable to LOCAL COL and local pay rates.
    Brass: no compensation based on revenues--just means tax increase after fax increase.

  4. In a city of roughly 4 Million, that 2year contract sounds like a pretty cheap deal for the city take it and be quiet about it, it'll all work out!!

  5. Although this may show a reduction in unwarranted giveaways, it still includes too many add on's that make the contract look like one negotiated with a private sector union during good times, when there is a labor shortage and a company is desperate to retain senior workers in order to make a profit. The effort to save the city money, for example, should not need to be incentivized with bonuses. The prudent use of sick leave should be expected, especially as municipalities struggle to pay their bills and avoid layoffs. I suppose it might seem hard to imagine dinner without a shrimp cocktail, folks, but some of us are eating beans.

  6. If they (FF's) don't want to negotiate in good faith with "zero-based" contracting, let's START OVER. Generate a NEW JOB DESCRIPTION and hire new employees. Then, eliminate the old jobs and RIF the current employees. And if it's in the contract that we can't hire anyone else to fight fires...just wait until the contract EXPIRES.

  7. There is no money left in the bucket. When I pull my pockets inside out, no change falls to the ground. It is time for the Fire Fighters to have their pay frozen. They do a great job for the people of the city but, the people of the city have fallen behind. All government employees need to accept that and take no pay raises.

  8. These people have such a sweet job and they still want more and more. We could get just as experienced people from other areas for much cheaper. Our valley firefighters are overpaid and have egos that match. They really don't seem to appreciate it.

    The flipside is that our politicians are letting us down too. They agreed to these deals for years to get it to this point. Now they are still playing around instead of drawing the line. I am still waiting for the firings of county firefighters and their supervisors for commiting fraud against the county. What happened there? I think one guy got fired. That's ridiculous. The brass should have at least been cleaned out for letting the fraud happen.

  9. Re Urbano Ornelas. The population of the CITY of Las Vegas, based on 2010 census figures was 583,756 people. The population of the LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN AREA based on 2010 census figures was 1,951,269 people. Hardly 4 million folks is it.