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North Las Vegas approves contract with Police Supervisors Union

The North Las Vegas City Council on Monday approved an agreement on contract concessions with the Police Supervisors Union that will save the city about $3.9u2007million over the next four years.

After weeks of court-ordered talks, city officials and the union agreed to eliminate union members’ cost-of-living raises through January 2014.

The 57-member union agreed to give up its 4.25 percent cost-of-living raise that began July 1 and a 2.5 percent raise scheduled for January. The loss of this year’s 4.25 percent raise would not be retroactive.

"It was a long journey for the (union) and the city," said Joyce Lira, the city’s director of human resources. "But we are very pleased we were able to find some mutual agreement between us."

Attorney Richard Dreitzer, who represents the city, said the approval resolves pending litigation in District Court and with the state’s Local Government-Employee Relations Management Board, which is expected to save the city money.

Net savings during fiscal 2012 will be $378,000, city officials said. The officials have said the city needs to come up with about $1.5 million to save two city-run recreation centers targeted for closure in October to help bridge a $4.4u2007million budget shortfall in the city’s 2012 budget.

"This doesn’t put us anywhere we need to be," said Councilwoman Anita Wood, who voted reluctantly in favor of the agreement. "We need $1.5 million to keep those rec centers open."

Wood added that the agreement sets a bad precedent for future negotiations with the Teamsters and fire unions.

Mayor Shari Buck said the agreement is the best the city can do at this point.

"It’s a slap in the face to say it’s not good enough," Buck said. "That’s how we’ve gotten ourselves in this situation. Stop the internal bickering between union and union, and employee and employee. It’s time to move forward."

At a previous meeting, the City Council approved cuts that included 21 layoffs and the closure of the rec centers to balance its fiscal 2012 budget because city officials had been unable to reach concessions with its two police unions.

The agreement with the supervisors union could put the city one step closer to keeping open Silver Mesa Recreation Center and the Neighborhood Recreation Center on Bruce Street.

But it’s unlikely unless more concessions are made, Wood said.

In exchange for the concessions, city officials agreed to pay union members who have been with the city at least 10 years 100 percent of their accrued sick leave upon their departure from the city.

The city previously paid 60 percent, said Sgt. Leonard Cardinale, president of the supervisors association.

Union members will receive 40 hours of additional annual leave, which they must use within a year.

The city also agreed not to privatize the city jail through at least June 30, 2015. The city will take back the recent demotions of two corrections lieutenants and two sergeants.

The police supervisors union represents sergeants and lieutenants. They average $147,700 a year in salary, plus $72,600 in benefits.

Although thankful for the vote, Cardinale was critical of city staffers.

"I would like to see a 5-, 10-, 15-year plan to see how we can get on our feet financially," Cardinale said. "We need to stabilize rather than, ‘Let’s just see if we can get through these next few months and then go back for more concessions or layoffs.’ "

Earlier this month, the two parties appeared before a District Court judge for a union request for a preliminary injunction to freeze cuts to police supervisors’ pay and benefits.

The judge ordered them to meet for talks in hopes they could agree on concessions to help the city fill its budget gap.

The city has yet to reach an agreement with the 360-member Police Officers Association. Mike Yarter, association president, declined to comment Monday, citing ongoing negotiations with the city.

Buck has said she is confident that agreement will come soon and the centers will remain open.

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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