The Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association struck a blow for public union transparency Tuesday, allowing the public to attend contract negotiations for the first time. But the public didn’t show up.
Besides the representatives on either side of the table at Metro headquarters on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there were only a few spectators, mostly reporters. And people attending the meeting would have had difficulty following the proceedings; talks covered esoteric subjects only insiders would understand.
The negotiations, which involved the union representing Metropolitan Police Department police sergeants, lieutenants and captains went down pretty much how you would expect. The PMSA, headed by Lt. John Faulis, sat at a long table across from representatives for Metro, headed by Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo and labor relations director Jamie Frost. Faulis or Frost would mention an article from the existing contract and suggest a change for the new contract.
Sporadically throughout the meeting, the groups would separate to “caucus” and gauge feelings about the discussion.
Faulis said the PMSA originally asked that the meetings be recorded for the public while the union and Metro were setting ground rules for the negotiations. But the union and Metro ultimately decided to open the proceedings to the public.
Faulis said the decision was, in part, a recognition of public desire.
In 2014 Republicans won control of both houses of the state Legislature. The following session gave rise to numerous bills aimed at reforming public unions. Two of the proposed bills, from state Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, sought more transparency in collective bargaining. Wheeler’s proposal went further, seeking to subject contract negotiations to the state open meeting law. Goicoechea’s bill would require any contracts negotiated privately to be made available for public review before being voted on by local government elected officials.
Those bills didn’t make it through the session, although several union reforms (mostly dealing with the teachers union) did. Faulis said the PMSA still took it as a sign.
“We heard the public loud and clear,” he said. “Why wait for this to get to the session again? We’re 100 percent transparent.”
Other public employee unions are less transparent. The teachers union doesn’t hold open meetings for its contract negotiations. The Las Vegas Police Protective Association is also renegotiating its contracts for officers, but those meetings are closed to the public, too.
The contracts being negotiated by the PMSA and the PPA expire this year.
Two of the issues raised in Tuesday’s negotiations were overtime pay for captains and assignment differential pay for special assignments.
The PMSA said area command captains, and those heading specialized units like homicide and traffic, have been required to be on the scene more and more in recent years. Captains have to go to the scene of every homicide and every standoff with the SWAT team, but since 1999 captains have been excluded from “call-out” pay — overtime for police who get called in to work after their shift.
The union also sought to reverse a policy that gives supervisors with specialty assignments, such as the SWAT team, half of the differential pay during the first year of their assignment.