Clark County, Nevada, and Service Employees International Enter Binding Arbitration
After failing to resolve contract disputes with its largest union, Service Employees International Local 1107 (SEI), Clark County Nevada has agreed to enter into binding arbitration in order to get a contract finalized. The SEI represents more than 5,000 county workers who have been seeking a new contract since the summer of 2013.
Even the decision to submit the contract to arbitration was rife with conflict; the call for arbitration first came in August 2014, but the union sought a longer-term contract and the county, citing financial uncertainty, wanted a shorter-term contract. In the end, each side can submit contract terms for up to four years. However, further negotiations between the union and the county stipulate that the arbitrator can only award salary raises over the two year period that ends in summer 2016.
Other issues being determined in this contract negotiation include salary bumps for long-term employees, which the county wants to eliminate, and other salary increases. The county did approve an interim raise of 2% in April 2014, but this only restored salaries to levels prior to a negotiated reduction during the economic turndown of recent years. The SEI does not consider that adjustment to be a true raise, and is seeking a significant increase in overall pay for county employees.
It will take several months for the arbitration process to complete. In the mean time, union workers will operate under the prior agreement as they have been. The county has spent nearly $40,000 so far on legal fees associated with the contract dispute, which may have been a factor in proposing arbitration as a solution.