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Henderson City Council approves employee contracts

Four union contracts down, two to go.

The Henderson City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved contract modifications and two-year extensions for three bargaining units represented by Teamsters Local 14: blue-collar workers, technical and clerical employees and supervisors.

Fred Horvath, assistant city manager, said the agreements increase city costs 1.5 percent, or $895,556, the first year and 1.68 percent, or $1.14 million, in the second. Current expenses including salary, state retirement program and overtime for employees represented by the Teamsters is $58.8 million.

The agreement includes a 1 percent base wage increase this fiscal year, and a 2 percent base wage increase in fiscal year 2016. Workers will also receive a 2 percent lump sum payment, However, that pay will not be associated with overtime or the Public Employees’ Retirement System expense.

The contract runs through June 30, 2016, and covers 709 city workers. The city has nearly 1,800 workers overall.

However, the union agreed to bank holiday time-off if it falls on a Friday instead of taking a payout, saving the city $688,000. The union also agreed to share increasing retirement and medical costs.

“We have overall cost increases but they are mitigated significantly by those cost concessions,” Horvath said. “This is consistent with what we’ve done with our nonrepresented employees and the contract ratified with the fire department.”

The union has agreed to work with the city in developing a classification and compensation study during the next 18 months, doing a market review of the compensation for union pay compared to private and other public entities.

While no union officials spoke at the council meeting, Councilwoman Debra March said the city’s openness with the unions has helped make these contracts favorable in the city’s current financial situation.

Horvath said the city meets monthly with all the bargaining units so the unions understand the financial challenges the city faces.

“They know how the finances work in the city as well as anyone,” Horvath said. “They absolutely recognize that we are a long way from where we’ve ever been.”

Henderson has been able to balance its operating budget, partially through department cuts and fee increases in parks and recreation. The city still faces a $17 million annual infrastructure deficit during the next 10 years.

The contract approvals come nearly three months after the City Council approved a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Henderson Professional Fire Fighters union that saw members receive net compensation non-wage increases of 1.11 percent and 2.23 percent, and a 2 percent lump sum payment similar to what the Teamsters will receive.

The city will begin negotiations with Henderson Police Officers’ Association at the end of the month, and have suspended negotiations with Police Supervisors’ Association until a deal with the officers’ union is complete.

Contact Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.

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