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Clark County School District has no money to up support staff pay

Updated July 24, 2018 - 5:49 am

The Clark County School District can’t afford a “moderate and reasonable” proposal to increase support staff wages, an independent arbitrator has ruled.

That means the 12,000 support staff employees in the school district will not earn any back pay or incentives from the previous school year. The arbitration, signed last week by William Riker, references recent decisions with the district’s other bargaining units — mainly the teachers union — in stating why the district is unable to pay the request from the Education Support Employees Association, commonly referred to as ESEA.

The union’s request for the 2017-18 school year would have cost the district about $15 million through a salary increase, higher contributions to health insurance and some modifications to the pay scale. Riker called the proposal modest and reasonable but maintained the district does not have the ability to fund it.

Union president Virginia Mills said the ESEA would explore its legal options and look for relief, because members will pay higher out-of-pocket costs for health insurance as a result of changes made to the plans offered by the school district.

“ESEA will advocate for our members and will fight for a contract” that rolls back “the recent health insurance program changes and gives every member a pay increase,” she said Monday in a statement.

District spokeswoman Kirsten Searer agreed with the arbitrator’s ruling.

“We look forward to partnering with our employee associations in the 2019 legislative session to work together to modernize Nevada’s funding formula so we can provide, at a minimum, cost of living increases to our employees, as well as a high-quality education to every student,” she said Monday in a statement.

Teamsters Local 14 representatives said the decision is another example of ineffective leadership. The Teamsters have been engaged in a 16-year effort to take over representation of the support staff union. The decision is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court, and it’s unclear when a ruling might be issued.

“It’s just unfortunate this is taking place,” said Grant Davis, vice president of Teamsters Local 14. “In many of my conversations so far with support staff over this, the common theme I have received is ‘I don’t know if I can work there any longer.’ It just becomes too expensive.”

The district is also asking a judge to overturn a different arbitrator’s decision dealing with the teachers union. Although the district argued it was unable to fund that request, the arbitrator ruled it could.

A judge has yet to rule in that case.

A possible solution

As the “last man on the totem pole,” Riker said the support staff and the district are often in a no-win situation when it comes to negotiating.

When the other contracts are negotiated first, it leaves little money to fund the support staff. He offered a partial solution to that problem, referring back to when he represented an employer that negotiated with eight different unions.

“After much pain and suffering, we eventually reached agreement with our collective bargaining partners and agreed that eight unions jointly bargain over the economic factors (wages, benefits, etc.) and apply the same percentage of economic benefits that serve all units,” he wrote.

The non-economic factors continued to be negotiated separately.

A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the number of support staff employees in the Clark County School District.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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