Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1998 | 10:41 a.m.
JEFF GERMAN is a senior investigative reporter. His column appears in the Las Vegas SUN on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 259-4067 or on the Internet at [email protected]
A MID THE LOW MORALE and labor strife at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, there's some good news to report.
LVCVA management has agreed to return some dignity to a courageous employee who had fallen out of favor.
Jean Goldberg -- who became a hero with her fellow workers for fighting what many considered a phony demotion -- has been offered a new job within the communications division of the LVCVA. A large portion of her pay scale, which dropped nine grades when she landed in the doghouse for no apparent reason in October 1997, has been restored.
Goldberg, as reported here in April, had an exemplary work record for nine years before her new supervisor launched a series of "oppressive" disciplinary actions against her.
The actions, which included a suspension, made her life miserable.
But in April, things turned around. A state arbitrator overturned the suspension, saying LVCVA officials had set her up to fail.
The new job is the result of the arbitrator's decision, which has given many in similar predicaments at the LVCVA hope that justice can prevail in the workplace if you're willing to fight for it.
Goldberg's stress-filled battle with management, however, may not be over.
Word is her case may end up in court. Her husband, Bob Goldberg, would like nothing more than to stick the LVCVA with the hefty legal tab it took to carry on the fight.
In the meantime, her plight once more has become a source of inspiration to some 275 fellow members of the Nevada Service Employees Union, who are trying to negotiate a new contract.
Talks, now in the hands of a mediator, continue to move along slowly.
The union has been circulating fliers at the LVCVA, accusing management of being"greedy" and trying to "line their pockets" at the expense of the workers.
Union boss Tom Beatty charged in an interview that management has proposed "Draconian take backs" in wages and benefits.
LVCVA officials, however, maintain the package being offered is one of the best in the nation.
Still, the employee bargaining committee sent a letter on July 23 to County Commissioner Lorraine Hunt, who chairs LVCVA board, notifying her of their concerns.
The committee contends LVCVA officials are looking for the right to hire employees on a subcontract basis so that they can eliminate the jobs of the salaried workers.
"Management needs to be told to get off the back of the rank and file workers and settle this contract now and settle it fairly," the committee told Hunt.
"We suggest that instead of attacking workers' pay and benefits, management should be directed to look at inefficiency within their own ranks, as well as the lop-sided number of chiefs and supervisors compared to the actual number of workers."
Last week, LVCVA President Manny Cortez e-mailed his human resources director, Kenneth Glaab, to convey his disappointment over the "distortions and misinformation" being put out by the employee bargaining committee.
"While I do not want to negotiate this contract in the newspaper," Cortez wrote, "I do believe it is important to set the record straight on some issues."
Cortez said the committee erroneously is implying the LVCVA wants to take back longevity pay for current employees.
"Management has asked for the elimination of longevity pay for future employees only," Cortez wrote. "Existing employees will not lose any of their longevity."
Cortez also said he was surprised to see the union taking the position the LVCVA has too many supervisors.
"These are working supervisors who lead by example and are a part of the bargaining unit," he told Glaab. "Please clarify from the union if they intend to abandon these employees."
Hunt, meanwhile, said she sees "real progress" in the negotiations.
"Both sides have assured me they're working hard and that things are getting better," she said. "That sounds good to me."
No one, however, is predicting when the labor strife will end.