Firefighters' offer hits snag


Clark County firefighters' proposed contract change got a cold reception Tuesday from commissioners who called for more talks with the union.

In an unexpected twist, the board discussed the offer in an open meeting rather than the closed session that had been planned, after Commissioner Steve Sisolak pressed for a public discussion.

"I'd rather just do it in the open," Sisolak said. "I'd rather let everyone know what the truth is."

Sisolak said there was a lot of misinformation about the proposal, and he wanted to avoid further distortions.

County Counsel Mary Ann Miller assured commissioners they could have the impromptu open discussion -- even though the required public notice wasn't given -- as long as they didn't take action.

They didn't.

County firefighters approved the offer in a vote last month. It calls for reducing their cost-of-living raise to 2 percent from the current 3 percent.

In return, firefighters would get two additional paid-leave days and a two-year contract extension.

The Fire Department also would forgo installing $4 million in security features at stations so that the money could be freed for other projects.

Ryan Beaman, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1908, described the offer to commissioners two weeks ago. But because he spoke during the time set aside for public comment, commissioners couldn't respond.

On Tuesday, Sisolak called the offer a "non-concession."

He has noted the two added paid-leave days would cost $1.3 million, canceling the $1.2 million in savings the county would get from the reduced pay raises

Commissioner Tom Collins, who arrived after the meeting, said he couldn't support tacking on two years to a labor contract.

"I have no desire to extend the contract," Collins said.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said Beaman should have a chance to respond publicly to the board's concerns.

"It's not fair for him not to be here," Weekly said.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a strong union advocate, said she would speak with Beaman about boosting the offer to make it acceptable to more commissioners. Then she would bring a new proposal back to the commission, she said.

Giunchigliani said she would tell Beaman that giving up the security measures wasn't viewed as a concession.

Commissioner Susan Brager questioned why Giunchigliani should act as the board's sole representative. "We do need to work together," Brager said.

Commission Chairman Rory Reid recalled that last year, he approached the county's three main unions about tweaking their contracts to help with the county's growing budget woes.

He said Giunchigliani is simply taking up where he left off.

"Everyone is invited to the party," Reid said.

"Sometimes you don't know when the party is," Brager said.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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