Clark County commissioners narrowly defeated a tentative agreement reached between University Medical Center’s management and the union that represents about 3,000 employees at the public hospital.
The commission, acting as the UMC Board of Trustees, voted 4-3 Tuesday against the proposed contract for hospital employees represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1107.
Commissioners who opposed the contract expressed concerns about the long-term financial impact of restoring longevity pay for a future hires. Employees are eligible for longevity pay after reaching eight years of service.
The move was a setback for the bargaining teams of the union and hospital management, which had been in negotiations since June 2013.
More than 99 percent of the union’s membership voted in support of the contract in January.
Martin Bassick, president of the SEIU Local 1107, said he was disappointed by the outcome, noting that no one from UMC’s management spoke out at the meeting in support of the tentative agreement the parties agreed to.
Opponents were Commissioners Steve Sisolak, Mary Beth Scow, Larry Brown and Susan Brager.
Supporters were Commissioners Tom Collins, Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly, who is chairman when commissioners act as the UMC Board of Trustees.
Separately, the contract would have put in place three separate cost-of-living increases that total 5.5 percent during the next two years. The first one, a 2 percent increase, would have been retroactive to January. Cost-of-living increases weren’t problems for the commissioners opposed to the contract.
Collins called it a “fair contract,” noting that the union’s members made concessions.
“It ain’t a freebie,” he said.
The hospital administration previously has pointed to the union making a concession by not seeking wage increases that were retroactive to July 2013, when the contract expired. Officials on both sides of the debate have said that UMC salaries need to be more competitive to keep employees from jumping to the private sector.
Commissioners who opposed longevity pay for future hires said they would prefer to see that money go toward starting salaries. The county projects that continuing longevity for new, future hires would cost $155.5 million for a 30-year period. Those costs wouldn’t start to kick in for another eight years, however.
“It’s a big dollar amount over a 30-year period,” Scow said. “I’d rather see that money go into the opening salaries.”
The defeated agreement would have cost an additional $10.9 million total during the life of the three-year contract, most of that going toward the cost-of-living increases.
Hospital administrators and the union met late Tuesday afternoon and will now consider returning to negotiations, UMC spokeswoman Danita Cohen said.
SEIU-affiliated county employees have made concessions in the recession. They took a 2 percent cut in pay in 2010. For UMC staffers, that came to a $4.4 million total reduction in pay and benefits for 2012 and 2013, records show.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.