Commissioners approve contract with park police

Clark County commissioners approved a one-year labor contract Tuesday with the park police that includes $115,000 in concessions.

The 15-person unit agreed to a 4 percent wage reduction, 40 hours of unpaid furloughs and suspension of the yearly uniform and equipment purchases through June 2011.

Savings will be relatively small within the county’s $1.2 billion operating budget and the shortfall that approached
$200 million earlier this year.

Still, Commissioner Steve Sisolak praised the park police for setting an example for the county’s other unions.

“I do think you set the bar, and you set it high,” Sisolak said.

The local firefighters union and the county are heading to arbitration after reaching an impasse in labor talks. The county has begun bargaining with the Service Employees International Union Local 1107, which represents more than 9,000 county workers.

Some park police officers worry that county officials might use their concessions to push other unions into bending, and they plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today in Sunset Park to explain why they gave in.

“They don’t want to be looked upon as political pawns,” said Rick McCann, director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, the umbrella group for the county park police. “Our jobs have been on the line for a year. It was based on individual needs and self-preservation.”

In April, the Metropolitan Police Department began handling all calls at 60 percent of the county’s 1,200 acres of parkland. Before that, the park police had to cover the entire area.

Commissioner Tom Collins cast the lone vote against the contract for park police, saying they were pressured into giving up some of their pay.

“They got beat up for the last two years and threatened that they would be laid off,” Collins said.

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