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City, union sign off on contract

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By David Giuliani

The Las Vegas City Council last week approved an agreement with the city’s biggest union that means pay raises for members.

City and union officials wouldn’t reveal how much more the union’s members would make, saying they would issue a joint press release.

On Wednesday night, the council unanimously voted for the agreement  with the city’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

A day earlier, a majority of the union’s membership voted for the agreement.

Elmer Martinez, the city’s community development director, said the contract includes the first city pay plan in a dozen years, showing how employees can move up the pay scale.

“We treated each other with mutual respect,” said Martinez, who was on the city’s bargaining team.

After the council voted, Don Cole, a union member, was given a chance to speak.  He said the membership liked the pay plan, but it still needed a lot of work.

“We’re going to have to do that work in future years. It’s kind of vague,” he said.

The contract’s approval came a week after a union official announced at a council meeting that the negotiations were headed toward an impasse. The official, Chris Armijo, said the city had threatened the union with layoffs and furloughs, but City Manager Timothy Dodge denied that he issued any threats.

Union officials wanted to list their grievances at the meeting, but Councilman Morris Madrid, who was presiding over the meeting, warned them not to.

The union and the council agreed to have union representatives meet with Dodge a final time before going into mediation. Apparently, that meeting headed off mediation.