Casinos throughout Nevada were closed Wednesday, along with other nonessential businesses, following an unprecedented order from Gov. Steve Sisolak. He urged residents to stay home to help curtail the spread of the new coronavirus. (March 18) AP Domestic
LAS VEGAS – An anticipated $1.1 billion loss during the COVID-19 crisis has led Clark County to suspend union contracts of nearly 9,000 employees – many of them healthcare and hospital workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
Officials contend the cuts were needed to navigate the demands of “this extraordinary time,” wrote Clark County Manager Yolanda King in an April 1 email.
“This was necessary to allow us to quickly change employees’ schedules and take other steps to make us all safer while providing critical services to our community.”
The contract breaks comes as cities across the nation navigate the financial fallout of a pandemic that’s sunk the economy and killed more than 5,000 people in the U.S.
The freeze lasts through May 15, impacting 4,000 University Medical Center workers and more than 5,000 county staffers with the Service Employees International Union.
King anticipates losses will top $1.1 billion over the next 12-18 months at Clark County, McCarran International Airport and UMC – a nonprofit county hospital.
“While final projections are not yet available, we all know the impact will be substantial,” King said. “Given the drastic shrinking of revenues, the final impact is expected to be severe.”
Union leaders have denounced Clark County’s decision to break contracts.
“Ms. King’s decision to strip away collective bargaining agreements for thousands of workers is dangerous and reactive,” said SEIU Local 1107 Director Grace Vergara-Mactal in a statement. “Our frontline heroes now must contend with doing their jobs safely, while also fearing for their livelihood.”
Local 1107 called on the County Board of Commissioners to take action and reverse a decision that could impact worker pay and hours.
“This decision is unacceptable,” Vergara-Mactal said, “a betrayal and blatant attack against frontline healthcare and public workers.”
King suggested further reductions could be forthcoming within the county.
“Sadly,” she wrote, “I am afraid County leadership will be forced to make some extremely difficult decisions during the coming weeks and months.”
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.
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