(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – The SEIU called the bluff of Clark County negotiators and, in keeping with tradition, the County folded like a cheap suit. As it suffers a massive projected deficit in the midst of the worst recession and private-sector job loss in virtually every resident’s lifetime, its negotiators couldn’t even obtain a real reduction in wages from a union whose members have prospered as others have suffered.
After SEIU members received raises averaging 13% (or more) over the last 3 years, the County appeared ready to play hard ball. Unfortunately for the taxpayers, Clark County’s version of hardball wouldn’t earn them a spot on my daughter’s 6-year-old-and-under softball team.
They threatened the union with a 9% pay cut and the possible loss of hundreds of jobs. The SEIU indicated it was prepared to take it to arbitration but was willing to settle for a pay cut approaching 9% if the County would pull back on some of the managerial oversight of SEIU members.
The agreement they reached calls for a mere 2% pay cut for workers who have received a double-digit increase at the same time over 100,000 Clark County residents were losing their jobs and hundreds of thousands more were taking double-digit pay cuts. It’s not even really a 2% pay cut. Nearly ¾ of these workers may not suffer a pay cut at all but could be eligible for an overall 2% pay increase.
Not satisfied with merely giving away the farm to the SEIU as the economy was collapsing, the County is now giving away the truck, the car, the generator, the silverware, the furniture and the loose change. But, after all, what do they care? It’s not their money; it’s yours.
Fortunately, the County Commission still has to vote on this agreement on April 5. Unfortunately, with few exceptions this group has traditionally shown about as much spine as a jellyfish when faced with demands from government unions.
Something to remember the next time the County cries poor mouth and claims it needs to raise your property taxes or your business license fees or invents some other form of “revenue enhancement” – if times were so tough, they wouldn’t be able to give raises to their employees.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)