Las Vegas Sun

June 22, 2021

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Answers: Clark County:

SEIU butting heads with county over ‘take-aways’

Contract negotiators for the union representing thousands of service employees who work for Clark County are gathering petition signatures from members to support the union’s bid to fight cuts in certain benefits.

What benefits is the Service Employees International Union afraid of losing?

Union members collecting signatures outside the Clark County Government Center last week wouldn’t allow the Sun to read the entire petition. But the Sun obtained an email written by union steward Joe Campbell to members that outlines the SEIU’s line in the sand. The Aug. 5 email starts with the headline, “Take Away, Taken Away!”

Campbell writes that the union has succeeded in protecting a union member’s holiday pay for birthdays, “but there are still serious Take Aways we want to fight and now, more than ever, we need every member’s support to let Clark County know: We Want All Take Aways OFF THE TABLE!”

From the email, it appears Clark County is targeting:

• Longevity pay: The county wants to freeze longevity pay increases and not give longevity pay to new hires. Longevity pay is a benefit given to some employees as a reward for staying in their county jobs.

• Wages: The county wants to reduce wages across the board by 1.5 percent.

County administrators refused to discuss contract negotiations with the Sun.

Didn’t the county just wrap up negotiations with the SEIU in March? What hits did the union take?

It was a mixed bag. Facing unprecedented shortfalls in tax revenue, the county is going after concessions from all of its public employee unions with a fervor unseen in decades, so the union had to give up something. In the end, roughly 5,500 SEIU members saw a 2 percent wage reduction that saved the county $8.3 million.

However, much of that was expected to be offset by 3-4 percent pay raises for about 70 percent of the members.

In 2009, SEIU members agreed to cut their annual cost-of-living increases from 3 percent to 1 percent.

•••

The municipal elections are a distant memory. But the ugliness and fallout from one Las Vegas race — between Bob Coffin and Adriana Martinez, both vying for a seat on the City Council — have been hard to forget.

Coffin, a former state senator, won but not before Martinez hit him with slights and innuendo that astonished jaded political observers.

Because Martinez worked as a liaison for Lois Tarkanian, another City Council member, have Coffin and she mixed it up as they pass each other at City Hall?

No. Although Martinez still works for the city, she no longer works for Tarkanian and she no longer works in City Hall. Shortly after the election, she was moved to the city’s records center, off Buffalo Drive and Cheyenne Avenue. Her new title is Management Analyst 1, City Clerk. She still pulls in an annual salary of $50,144.64, plus benefits.

Is moving Martinez out of City Hall a surprise?

Not entirely.

Although Tarkanian supported Martinez’s candidacy, she told the Sun she was a longtime friend of the Coffin family, and was “bothered” at the campaign mudslinging.

Martinez’s campaign had sent out fliers, in Spanish only, that read: “Prostitutes and Pedophiles — That’s all Bob Coffin wants for our community.”

After the election, Tarkanian also said the city was eliminating liaison positions, hinting that Martinez’s position might have been endangered. Others in City Hall said the situation — having Coffin and Martinez in proximity almost daily — would have been “very uncomfortable.”

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