Standing up to firefighters

The Clark County Commission on Tuesday finally took the side of beleaguered taxpayers and called out a public employee union.

In attempting to reconcile deepening revenue shortfalls and skyrocketing labor costs, commissioners have sought concessions from the county's bargaining groups. Most of the unions have agreed to reduced increases in their wages and benefits in exchange for contract extensions. It's not much help, but at least it's something.

But Clark County's exceedingly well-paid firefighters have refused to address the government's fiscal woes in good faith. After months of outright refusals to reduce the pay increases guaranteed by their contract, the firefighters finally voted in favor of a "concession" that's actually more expensive than their current deal. The firefighters would agree to reduce a 3 percent cost-of-living pay raise to 2 percent -- at a "savings" to taxpayers of $1.2 million -- if they were given two more days of paid leave per year -- at a cost to taxpayers of $1.3 million -- and a two-year contract extension.

The commission effectively told the firefighters to stuff it. The open deliberations prevented the firefighters' designated water girl, Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, from concealing her loyalties behind closed doors. Ms. Giunchigliani eagerly volunteered to negotiate with the firefighters union on behalf of the commission and come up with a new proposal.

It would be hard to imagine a worse advocate for the taxpayers than Ms. Giunchigliani, who clearly is desperate to protect all her union endorsements. Negotiations with the firefighters union would be best left to the county manager's office.

We applaud the commission for standing up to the firefighters, who were paid an average of nearly $120,000 apiece last year. Commissioners must hold that line if they ever hope to put their broken budgets back together again.


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