Playing favorites

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.

Playing favorites

If you’ve driven past the Cosmopolitan in the past year, you’ve likely seen protestors from the Culinary Union Local 226.

And unless you were the target of one of the union’s well-reported verbal attacks aimed at anyone who dares cross the picket line, you probably kept moving, thinking the dispute had nothing to do with you or your family.

But it turns out the protests do have something to do with you — because as a taxpayer, you’ve been subsidizing the demonstrations for a year.

As reported by NPRI’s Nevada Journal, Metro gifted the union $195,964.60 in free police services at these protests from June 14, 2013 to March 8, 2014, charging the union only once: when members intentionally got themselves arrested. Aside from playing favorites with the union — something I’ll get into in a moment — the doling out of public funds has come at a time when Metro would have the public believe it’s strapped for cash.

For the better part of the past year, Sheriff Doug Gillespie pushed a proposal to increase the sales tax, seeking new revenue to hire more cops. Just over a month after the proposal was shot down by the Clark County Commission in late January, Metro announced it would stop responding to non-injury traffic collisions for lack of officers, making the post-accident insurance nightmare even worse for many drivers.

Now, get this: Just days after the new, non-response policy took effect, Metro policed another Culinary protest, comping the union $3,769.47 in officer costs. So while Metro doesn’t have the money to assist you when you get into an accident, it’s somehow managing to find the resources to man the union’s protests free of charge.

Union members have every right to protest, of course, but they shouldn’t be entitled to special treatment from a government agency, especially when that same agency is cutting back on services to the public. Other events, like concerts and boxing matches, must reimburse Metro for the costs they incur while providing security. So why not the Culinary Union?

Metro Public Information Officer Jesse Roybal told Nevada Journal that the department doesn’t seek reimbursement from unions because it wants to maintain neutrality in labor disputes. Providing almost $200,000 worth of comped services, however, is the complete opposite of neutrality: It’s an example of government picking winners and losers. The real way to maintain neutrality is to treat all event organizers the same, not to provide unions hundreds of thousands of dollars in free services.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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