Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 | 1:38 p.m.
Attorneys for the Metro Police union are pushing back against claims that a recent arbitration didn’t follow the rules set out in state law.
In a memo released today, in-house counsel for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which represents rank-and-file Metro Police officers, rebutted claims made last week by a Clark County attorney that an arbitrator’s September decision to give raises and health benefit increases to officers “was not in compliance with Nevada law.”
County counsel Mary-Anne Miller’s memo pointed out several areas in which she thought the arbitration process didn’t comply with state law.
Among Miller’s concerns was an improper process for selecting the arbitrator, a lack of documentation throughout the process and an improperly rendered decision.
The union’s competing analysis addresses many of Miller’s points, parsing through Nevada Revised Statute to show that, in its opinion, all arbitration standards required by state law were met.
“Not only is the award in this case legal, the only slight deviation from statute was the fact that the very final offers communicated to the arbitrator were oral and not in writing,” the LVPPA’s memo reads. “It should be noted that there is often slight deviation from this statute and we would submit that if one looked into the particulars of any interest arbitrations, deviations could and would be identified.”
The LVPPA’s memo insists that the two sides in the arbitration — in this case, the union and Metro Police administration — are allowed to choose an arbitrator if both sides agree. The two sides agreed to select Chicago-based arbitrator Robert Perkovich.
Miller had contended that NRS requires an arbitrator to be chosen from a panel of seven candidates, with each side striking a candidate until one remains.
Regarding the lack of a paper trail, the LVPPA’s memo argues that “express provisions of the statute” were followed, and a court reporter was hired to provide a record of the hearing.
The two sides agreed to forego a final transcription because it was not required by state law and doing so would save time and money, according to the memo.
The dispute over the arbitration decision, which awarded a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase and an increased health plan contribution of $1,154 for LVPPA members, erupted earlier this month after commissioner Steve Sisolak raised concerns that the process didn’t adhere to state law.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie responded quickly with a next-day press conference in which he adamantly denied accusations that the process was flawed or that he colluded with unions to ensure the raise.
“The arbitration process is set in stone,” Gillespie said on Oct. 11. “There are rules. There are processes. They were followed.”
It’s unlikely the arbitrator’s decision will be reconsidered or overturned, but the dispute has given Sisolak an opportunity to question Gillespie’s handling of the department’s finances at the same time Gillespie is seeking commission for approval for a sales tax increase to hire more police officers.
Sisolak and the other members of Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, which oversees the department’s budget, are scheduled to discuss the award at their meeting on Oct. 28.