No outsourcing for three years.
That's what the Clark County School District's negotiators promised 11,000 custodians, bus drivers, cooks and secretaries in a collective contract proposal for now through 2014.
The small number of support staff employees who voted -- 242 -- overwhelmingly adopted the contract Saturday with 76 percent giving approval.
The vote means the end is near for months of negotiations between the district and the support staff union, said Brian Christensen, executive director of the Education Support Employees Association.
For the contract to take effect, the Clark County School Board must approve it at a meeting Thursday.
Outsourcing has been a point of contention since Gibson Consulting Group recommended it as a last resort for the cash-strapped district in early September. The firm said that if support staff refused to accept a pay freeze and other concessions, the district should eliminate 1,522 in-house custodians and hire a private company for an annual savings of $10.4 million. Outsourcing bus driver jobs would save the district $36 million over five years, consultants said. The district's fleet consists of about 1,500 buses.
Support staff union officials worked their way around the dilemma of salary cuts versus outsourcing and found a way to temporarily continue seniority pay increases themselves while obtaining a no-outsourcing guarantee from the district.
And the district got much of what it wanted, saving $34.7 million through the new contract.
That's because the union, not the district, will pay for workers' raises this year and next, Christensen said.
The cost is estimated at $9.6 million in 2011-12 and $19.2 million in 2012-13. The union is getting the money from a reserve account from its defunct health trust. The health trust used to provide union members with health insurance before the district took over in 2001. The fund also will pay for support staff workers' share of a small increase in retirement contributions.
But the health trust fund will support raises only until June 2013. After that, the health trust's leftover money will be depleted, Christensen said.
"We saved people for a year and a half," he said, adding that this will buy time but isn't a permanent fix for support staff. "We were able to save jobs."
It is unclear whether the district will continue to pay the raises once the support staff's reserve account is depleted, or whether salaries then would revert to 2011 levels.
A contract with administrators is already in place. Little contention surrounds the district's contract negotiations with school police, sources have said.
However, a deal with teachers has yet to be reached. Teachers account for half of all district employees.
Contract terms for these 18,000 employees are in arbitration because the Clark County Education Association refuses to accept a pay freeze or switch teachers from the union's health trust to a district-selected health insurance system.
The district told principals last week to prepare for 1,000 teacher layoffs, which would need to be done to balance the budget if the arbitrator sides with the education association.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.