North Las Vegas government now has a labor climate to match its fiscal prospects. Both are in complete meltdown.
On Monday, City Manager Timothy Hacker called out public safety employee unions for failing to agree to contract concessions. Because the city must submit a budget to the state for fiscal 2012-13 by June 1, Mr. Hacker says he's about out of time to reach agreements that might erase a projected $33 million deficit. He said massive layoffs are imminent.
Mr. Hacker argued that "union leaders are "serving their own self interest first and their community second" and that "union officials controlling the police force and firefighters have walked away from reasonable negotiations."
Union leaders, meanwhile, said they were shocked by Mr. Hacker's choice of words. The firefighters union said it had agreed to $5.8 million worth of concessions over two years on the condition that the Fire Department consolidate with another force - but neither Clark County nor the city of Las Vegas has come to the rescue. Police supervisors had been seeking more financial information from the city. Which is to say they're stalling.
Perhaps more than 200 workers will lose their jobs in short order unless the unions heed a reality check and agree to freeze salaries and halt paid-leave cash outs. It doesn't help that the city's other workers, represented by the Teamsters, voted down concessions worth $12.3 million over two years.
Neither side has the high ground here. City management gave away the store in good times and agreed to foolish conditions in previous rounds of concessions.
Meanwhile, the Nevada Journal found few of the city's firefighters and police officers actually live in North Las Vegas. They don't particularly care about the impact of their salary demands on residents. And if police and fire response times fall through the floor, it doesn't affect their homes.
Union officials and Mr. Hacker don't have to like one another to strike an agreement that keeps the city on life support. As ugly as things are in North Las Vegas today, they'll get much worse very quickly without such a deal.