The city of North Las Vegas is going where no other local government has gone – declaring the city a disaster area in order to suspend collective bargaining agreements with unions. On Friday, the City Council voted unanimously to grant the city manager powers enabling him to discard portions of union collective bargaining agreements negotiated long ago, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The council’s action is based on an obscure Nevada law that allows cities to suspend union agreements during riots, natural disasters, military actions and civil unrest. City manager Tim Hacker proposed the resolution last week, saying the alternative – mass layoffs in the police and fire departments – would put city residents at risk, and thus constitute an emergency itself.
Mayor Shari Buck said the measure was necessary “to rescue our city from financial ruin.” City officials say they had no choice after police and fire unions refused to give up scheduled pay raises, uniform allowances and other benefits. Union officials say the city’s claims, about a $33 million budget deficit and the need for 217 police and fire layoffs, are fabrications. They said they will fight the measure in court.
North Las Vegas’ action is unusual. Chris Hoene, director of research at the earlier that he had never heard of another city using a law designed for physical emergencies for a financial emergency instead. Some cities have resorted to bankruptcy or allowing the state to take over during a financial crisis., told the Review-Journal
Municipal bankruptcy is not allowed under Nevada law. The state could still take over, though. The state Department of Taxation is monitoring North Las Vegas’ finances.
Hoping to avoid a state takeover, Hacker said he will immediately exercise the new powers granted to him. The measure takes effect July 1.