County proposes bribing current employees to cut pay for future employees

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

County proposes bribing current employees to cut pay for future employees

Imagine a parent offering his 10-year-old boy this deal:

“Son, you make $15 a week in allowance. I’m going to give you a one-time $5 bonus if you permit me to pay your future siblings — who aren’t born yet — $1 less per week once they turn eight years old.”

This would strike most of us as completely ludicrous. Why should a parent have to seek the permission of an older child to change the allowance of a child not even born yet?

Amazingly, that’s analogous to what’s happening right now at UMC, the government hospital run by Clark County. Here’s how the Las Vegas Review-Journal describes the situation: “Clark County has offered University Medical Center employees a $500 one-time bonus if they agree that new, future hires no longer will receive longevity pay.”

In short, county officials are offering a bribe — not an illegal one, of course — to current employees so they can reduce compensation for future ones.

The “bonuses” would cost Clark County $2 million today, but save UMC $150 million over 30 years, although there would be no savings for eight years. That’s when longevity payments currently begin for new hires.

So have Clark County officials lost their marbles?

Actually, no — because county officials are restrained by something no parent is: state-imposed collective bargaining.

You see, even though UMC has lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade, county officials can’t just eliminate longevity pay for future and current hires.

That’s because Nevada’s collective bargaining law, NRS 288, gives government employee unions incredible leverage over county officials. Provisions like “evergreen clauses” and “binding arbitration” have put so much power into the hands of union bosses that the county is now resorting to bribing current employees to eliminate pay increases for future employees.

Given the perverse incentives at play in the system, the county’s proposal actually makes sense.

Which is a powerful indication that Nevada’s collective bargaining law doesn’t make sense. And this is far from the only example.

For the sake of sanity, and our fiscal future, Nevada’s collective bargaining law must be repealed or substantially reformed.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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