Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2017

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City government:

After yearlong impasse, Las Vegas firefighters secure raises

Las Vegas firefighters will get slight raises each of the next three years under a new collective bargaining agreement approved by the City Council on Wednesday.

The issue: The council considered a four-year contract with the firefighters union, which has been in negotiations for more than a year.

The vote: Approved unanimously, with councilwoman Lois Tarkanian absent.

What it means: After more than a year of stalled negotiations, Las Vegas and its firefighters union, Local 1285, should have labor peace for the next several years under a collective bargaining agreement that lasts through June 2016.

An impasse was declared in May 2012, requiring arbitration between the two sides before Wednesday’s deal was ultimately agreed upon.

The agreement, which will cost the city $7.2 million in added costs over the life of the contract, includes raises of 1.5 percent in the second and third years, and a 2 percent raise in the final year. Because the new deal includes the previous fiscal year, during which negotiations were stalled, firefighters will see their first 1.5 percent raise in their next paychecks.

As a trade-off for the increased salaries, the city was able to negotiate several measures to limit the long-term cost of new hires, including eliminating longevity pay.

“In general, what we’ve been trying to accomplish is to try and restore services and compensation where we can for people that took cuts,” City Manager Betsy Fretwell told the council Wednesday. “The second thing we’ve been trying to do is to modify new hire benefits and compensation structures to be more sustainable in the long run.”

Council members voiced approval for the deal, praising city staff members and union representatives for coming to a long-term agreement that provides stability for both sides.

“We always know in negotiations everybody gives a little bit,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, “but the end result is we all care about where we live and safety for our community.”

In a separate item, the council also unanimously approved a two-year contract with corrections officers at the city jail, represented by the Las Vegas Police Officers Association.

The contract will increase costs for the city by $1.3 million and give officers raises of 3 percent in the first year and 1.5 percent in the second year to restore salary concessions made by members during the recession.

The city’s only remaining unsettled collective bargaining agreement is being negotiated with city marshals, represented by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association. Staff members told the council they expect a final agreement to be ready for approval within the next two to three months.

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