County commissioners approve firefighters contract


The Clark County Commission on Tuesday ratified a three-year contract agreement with firefighters that county officials say will save taxpayers about $60 million over 25 years.

The deal, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2015, eliminates longevity pay for new hires, where county staff expects to reap most of the savings, and freezes cost-of-living adjustments for the first two years with the option of allowing either party to renegotiate the third year.

Last week, union members approved the agreement, the third consecutive accord in 18 months to include major financial concessions.

Commissioners praised county staff and the union for reaching an agreement and used the discussion to publicly support firefighters caught in the cross hairs because of a few accused of abusing sick leave and overtime.

"It's time for people to recognize that our fire department does a darn good job; these are good men and women," Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said. "You should never discriminate or paint everyone with a broad brush. I'm hoping to get past the spitting on people and derogatory comments made to our firefighters."

Commissioner Tom Collins invited people to visit a firehouse.

"Go out on a call and watch them save a life, put a bloodied body back together from a car wreck or get somebody's heart beating again," Collins said. "Not just anybody knows how to do that, and that's worth something."

County officials have said they spend about $25 million a year on overall longevity pay, originally used to attract employees and reward them annually for their years of service after eight years.

Longevity pay made up about 8 percent of firefighter pay and 15 percent of battalion chief pay, according to the most recent employee compensation report.

The report also showed that fire payroll has decreased by more than $11.3 million, 12 percent, over the past two years because of collective bargaining concessions and operational changes.

County officials also reported the average salary and benefits for firefighters falling to $175,000 in fiscal year 2011 from $189,000 in fiscal year 2010.

Firefighters have taken a 10.5 percent decrease in pay over the past two years.

The agreement came a day after Local 1908 filed a lawsuit in federal court against the county to keep several fire battalion chiefs in the union. The union alleges the county is trying to make battalion chiefs qualify as supervisors under a new state law that would bar them from being part of Local 1908.

The county has not determined whether battalion chiefs fall under the new law.

Commissioners on Tuesday also approved a one-year agreement with the Juvenile Justice Supervisors and Assistant Managers Association expected to save $104,314, or 3.2 percent. Union members agreed to a 1.5 percent wage reduction, the forfeiture of 20 accrued leave hours, a 12-month merit freeze and a 12-month longevity freeze, among other concessions.

Commissioners approved a two-year agreement with the Clark County Deputy Sheriff's Association that expires June 30, 2014. Union members agreed to no wage increase with the option of reopening the discussion in the second year. Merit is limited to 2 percent in the first year and fully available the second year.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.