County firefighters vote to support wage, benefit cuts


Clark County firefighters have voted in favor of a labor deal that would save the county $4.2 million a year.

The proposed one-year contract, which would run from July 1 to June 2012, will go before commissioners in June to ratify.

The 741 firefighters covered by the contract would take a 1.5 percent pay cut, lose a vacation and a sick day, and have longevity pay frozen at current levels. Also, the first-year wage for rookie firefighters would be lowered by 5 percent. An estimated two-thirds of firefighters who cast ballots voted for the new terms, according to union leaders.

These concessions would be on top of the reductions in firefighters' pay and benefits that the county won in arbitration, for a total savings of $13.3 million yearly, county officials estimate.

Last year, county firefighters averaged $130,000 in wages and $58,000 in benefits. Battalion chiefs received an average of $183,000 in wages and $81,000 in benefits.

Recently, in a separate tentative deal, the union agreed to concessions for battalion chiefs in a proposed two-year contract that would run from July 1 through June 2013. That contract also must be ratified.

In all, a chief's average yearly earnings would drop by more than $40,000 through a 5 percent cut in base wages and reductions in callback and overtime pay.

The contract also would reduce vacation and sick leave accruals, freeze merit increases, trim longevity pay and decrease bonus leave for new battalion chiefs.

County managers are pushing harder for labor concessions because of the budget crunch.

They plan to slash about 200 jobs, which would include 82 layoffs, to decrease a $100 million budget gap to $50 million. The remaining hole would be filled with money from a reserve fund.

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

 

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