Unions in North Las Vegas pushing city toward insolvency

Andy Matthews

North Las Vegas is on the edge of the solvency cliff, and its public employee unions are lining up to push it off.

Hi, I’m Andy Matthews.

In 2012, as North Las Vegas struggled to deal with the aftermath of the Great Recession, city officials tried to declare a state of emergency so it wouldn’t be forced to give $25 million in pay increases to its employees. Its unions sued, and a judge has ruled that the nearly bankrupt city and its taxpayers must pay that $25 million in back raises.

North Las Vegas has offered a $7.7 million settlement to its employees, who, because of Nevada’s collective bargaining laws, are able to extract massive pay and benefit increases even in a recession.

The alternatives are to lay off city workers or turn its finances over to the state.

The idea of getting less-than-expected pay raises during isn’t sitting well with the unions.

The president of the North Las Vegas Firefighters Association, Jeff Hurley, said he was “disappointed” by the settlement offer. Hurley made over $197,000 in pay and benefits in 2013. What could be disappointing about that?

Maybe he’s disappointed that over 125 of his North Las Vegas colleagues made more than him in 2013, including library director Kathryn Pennell who pocketed over $427,000 in total compensation.

Unfortunately, six-figure compensation packages in the almost-insolvent city are the norm. In 2013, over 800 North Las Vegas employees made more than $100,000.

And now, the unions appear ready to force the city into insolvency so they can get even more.

It’s time to reform or eliminate Nevada’s local collective bargaining laws and break the grip unions have over cities’ finances.