A big bad bully

We’ll give the city’s public-sector union chiefs the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re working diligently behind the scenes to make compensation concessions in order to avoid layoffs.

Because if they aren’t — if their public bluster isn’t just for the cameras — membes of the rank and file should have canned these guys months ago.

You would think, anyway.

The city faces a $70 million budget shortfall — and skyrocketing personnel costs have helped blow out the hole. Mayor Oscar Goodman says city employees should give up their scheduled raises and accept 8 percent pay cuts in each of the next two years.

Predictably, the unions haven’t been running to City Hall to cut a deal. But given what’s been commonplace in the beleaguered private sector, the mayor’s proposal is hardly out of line.

Otherwise, city officials say they’re prepared to fire 146 workers if some concessions aren’t in place by June 1, when the new fiscal year begins. And Mayor Goodman took it a step further on Wednesday, and threatened to fire the lot of them — the entire municipal bureaucracy — and then rehire those who are willing to come back at reduced hours.

“If it’s legal, I’m going to propose it to the council,” the mayor said. “I think it’s the only way we’re going to save jobs.”

Union chief Chris Collins, representing city marshals, called the mayor a “bully.” So did Firefighter union boss Dean Fletcher. Meanwhile, Don King, head of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, noted he’s busy surveying his membership to determine how to proceed.

Well here’s a clue for you all. If you really want to save jobs and do what’s best for your members, you’ll realize that the city can’t remain solvent if it doesn’t get a handle on compensation costs. If it takes a “bully” to force government union leaders to understand that struggling taxpayers are neither willing nor able to ensure that city workers make it through this recession unscathed, so be it.

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