Third Party to Assist in Las Vegas Firefighter Contract Dispute

After months at impasse, firefighters and the city of Las Vegas are scheduled next month to resume efforts to reach a contract agreement, this time with the help of a third party, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

Over the course of three days starting Feb. 4, an independent fact-finder will hear arguments and evidence from both sides and issue recommendations about the disputes that could help end negotiations that had been stalled since an impasse was declared in May 2012.

There’s been little discussion about the contract since, said Scott Johnson, president of firefighter union Local 1285. Firefighters have continued working under the terms of the previous agreement.

At issue are concessions sought by the city that firefighters are reluctant to make after several years of budget cuts.

“That doesn’t mean we are asking for a great deal of things. It simply means we are hoping to reset and do some recovery of concessions our members have made in the last couple of contracts,” Johnson said.

City Manager Elizabeth Fretwell has called the growth of the fire department’s budget, which has increased at nearly twice the rate of the city’s general fund since 2004, unsustainable.

The contentiousness of the negotiations is captured in a September complaint filed by the firefighters after the city offered each of them a $549 bonus.

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