Bargaining in Bad Faith

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las vegas review-journalThe largest newspaper in Nevada has accused the SEIU of bargaining in bad faith.

Anytime a government agency even contemplates reducing its costs by hiring private firms to do the jobs of public employees — by itself an admission that taxpayers are grossly overpaying for labor — unions and their political allies respond with howls of outrage and indignation. How dare you seek savings and efficiencies that might actually preserve services!

That familiar script played out again Wednesday when the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority Board of Commissioners met to approve a fiscal year 2016 budget that would have outsourced three programs and laid off 40 to 45 employees. The agency, which manages housing for low-income residents, has an estimated deficit of between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in its $150 million budget, caused in part by unsustainable personnel costs.

In addition to dragging out contract negotiations with Clark County, the Service Employees International Union Local 1107 has bargained in bad faith with the housing authority. Authority Executive Director John Hill told the Review-Journal’s Yesenia Amaro that although the SEIU has failed to agree to a new contract for more than two years, his agency had to provide some workers with pay raises last year of between 2.5 and 5 percent — raises he can’t suspend.

The authority‘s “sustainability plan” would outsource management of four of 26 public housing properties, housing inspections and the agency‘s family self-sufficiency program. About half of the proposed job eliminations resulting from the outsourcing would affect SEIU members.

So the union packed Wednesday‘s board meeting in protest.