Handing out pink slips

The city’s unionized workers have cast their lot and now must live with the consequences — many of them from the unemployment line.

Mayor Oscar Goodman said Thursday the city will lay off more than 200 workers in the coming days in order to help close an $80 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011 and a $50 million gap in fiscal year 2012.

Barring an unforeseen turnaround in the next few months, those deficits may eventually increase — and so will the need for more cuts.

The majority of the layoffs will hit members of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, the city’s largest union, which represents general municipal employees. Others getting pink slips are likely to include city marshals and corrections officers.

Whether the city’s well-paid firefighters will be forced to share the pain remains to be seen.

The layoffs could have been avoided. But rather than accept the pay and benefit reductions necessary to lift the city out of the red, the labor organizations chose to sacrifice scores of jobs.

Let’s hope the next round of union contract negotiations for municipal workers reflects a more sober view of the fiscal landscape than those that got the city into trouble in the first place.

As for the firefighters, city officials still hope they can wring a deal out of them to cut costs, but don’t hold your breath. Any agreement is likely to generate minimal savings as the firefighters union has been the most intransigent of the bunch when it comes to offering concessions.

“The sense was … that it just wasn’t enough,” Mayor Goodman said about the latest offer from the firefighters.

That’s something city officials must remember come contract time — and beleaguered taxpayers should ponder when they see the firefighters’ stamp of approval on candidates running in upcoming local elections.

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