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County workers OK pay raise cuts

Workers in Clark County’s largest union approved reducing annual pay raises enough to save taxpayers an estimated $9.6 million a year through mid-2011.

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 1107 voted Friday to trim cost-of-living raises to 1 percent from 3 percent and to cap merit pay increases at 4 percent instead of 5 percent.

Under the new terms, an employee could receive combined pay raises as large as 5 percent rather than 8 percent.

In return for the union’s concessions, the SEIU contract will be extended by a year to July 2011. However, after July 2010, the county can ask to renegotiate the contract again if the recession deepens.

Union spokeswoman Amber Lasater said more than 62 percent of the union members who voted ratified the contract offer. SEIU represents about 9,500 county employees.

The reduced wage increases come after months of labor talks and during the same week that county commissioners began the task of balancing a budget with $114 million less than the year before.

In November, Commissioner Rory Reid asked the SEIU, police and firefighters’ unions to renegotiate labor contracts to ease the impacts of the troubled economy and avoid layoffs.

Union leaders, in turn, asked the county to open its books to prove its finances were strained.

The county supplied the information but SEIU initially balked at changing the contracts. That led to months of negotiations.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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