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Steve Sisolak on Firefighter Pay
Steve Sisolak on Firefighter Pay

AIR DATE: September 21, 2010

County Commissioner, Steve Sisolak says he can prove Clark County firefighter's were "gaming" the county's sick leave and overtime rules for bigger paychecks. Sisolak has been the firefighter union's most vocal critic saying there is a culture of cheating the system that starts with young firefighters and is carried on over the years and passed down.

So what is that proof and how will it affect future deals with the firefighters union? We talk with County Commissioner Steve Sisolak about how he came across his proof and what it means for taxpayers in Clark County.

Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commissioner

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That was a very impressive presentation by Commissioner Sisolak. It seems that he is doing a great job. I was not very impressed by the fireman who called and stated that a fireman must have taken a woman from the commissioner and that was why the commissioner was taking on this subject. That fireman seems to have a pretty high opinion of himself.
AOSep 17, 2010 23:00:30 PM
Given the tight economy, it would seem that many people would like a secure reasonably well paying job. Since contact has expired, is there any way to post new job opening at a compensation level that compares with those of fire fighters in similar sized metro areas?
bobSep 17, 2010 20:30:34 PM
Bob, It was a county decision to pay overtime instead of hiring more employees. As Sisolak stated, the base pay of firefighters is not at issue. Ask Sisolak, and Ryan Beaman how many hours the men and women of the fire department are working? If you are willing to work the number of hours that they do, fill out an application.
joeSep 18, 2010 22:42:09 PM
What would happen if (1.) contract stated that no overtime would be paid until the full 40 contracted week was worked? (2.) If we hired more entry level people to reduce overtime. (3.) stopped dual response to EMT calls. Since a very high percentage of Fire Fighter calls are for EMT's, why can the commercial ambulances handle it? Two trucks for one single person incident seems like a waste.
TakaSep 17, 2010 20:27:10 PM
Mr. Sisolak has proof that 2 battalion chiefs may be abusing sick leave. Gaming the system takes the cooperation of many, many employees. If 9 BC's want to game the system they should have three or six engaging. There's 3 shifts with 3BC's on each. Overtime is rotated among the employees. In order for someone to reliably game the system they would need to ensure that these BC's who took no days off don't get the overtime that they are opening up for their pal. Sick leave abuse is a separate issue. To say that the entire department is gaming the system, you would actually have to learn about how this overtime is distributed. There's almost no way to control who would receive the overtime when you call off. There's dozens of people signing up at different times. To ensure that your buddy gets your shift would be very difficult to manage with any reliability.

He should let the negotiators and the arbitrator do their jobs. As a County Commissioner, by inciting public opinion with carefully drawn up facts he is in my opinion participating in bad faith bargaining. Not legally, I'm sure, but realistically. Ask Mr. Beaman about firefighters working a 56 hour week for straight pay.

Rick HavershamSep 17, 2010 14:08:21 PM
Sadly, none of the abuse should come as a surprise. I retired from the Foreign Service in 2004. When I first hired with the State Department employees earned sick leave, accumulated the same (in case they got sick), and, when they retired, sold back all of the accumulated sick leave. 4 hours a pay period (or 13 days a year) -- a healthy employee might, after 30 years of service, have 390 days of leave that could be exchanged for an additional 13 months of service. (continued)
Robert L BurkhartSep 17, 2010 12:56:32 PM
(con't) -- But the rules re. sick leave changed in the 1980's -- now, any unused sick leave is "lost" when you retire. Under the old rules employees stayed healthy -- Not any more, now -- when an employee nears retirement, he's likely to be sick every Monday and every Friday (amazing) -- a doctor's note is not required for short term illnesses.

If the firemen are cheating (and I don't doubt they are) it's because the system encourages cheating.

Robert L BurkhartSep 17, 2010 13:02:52 PM
Obviously we've set up a system that allows gaming. How about tightening up sick leave requirements. A doctor's note is required if more than 1 consecutive or 2 days in a 7 day period are taken. Also, if contract doesn't already say it, no overtime should be paid until the full work period (week? month?) has been worked at standard pay schedules.
BobSep 17, 2010 20:36:45 PM
Not on this subject. Would like to know if this Robert Burkhart was the IMO at Amembassy Islamabad? I was there and am reminiscing. Thanks, Bob
Robert W PennellJan 21, 2011 11:11:20 AM
Like the caller pointed out. The CCFD are the only large bargaining group that Sisolak is demanding a pay cut from. there are only 6 park police. Metro put off there COLA for two years in exchange for the county paying a share of their insurance AND got 2 more vacation days a year. So in two years they will get raises and have 2 more vacation days. This seems personal to me too.
readerSep 17, 2010 12:03:10 PM
Commissioner Sisolak and members of the media have pointed blame at the union for problems within the fire department. Is it the union that hires and fires employees, or is it department management? Is the union responsible for disciplining employees, or does that responsibility fall on department management?? County and fire department management have agreed to follow terms of a contract that were negotiated by both sides. Why are we not holding the county and fire department management accountable and responsible for doing their jobs??
sandySep 17, 2010 10:21:13 AM
It appears that unions have bludgeoned management into an unsustainable contract. Fortunately for the fire fighters, they have the taxpayers to bleed. Look what happened when Auto Workers, Steel Workers and Air Line workers asked for too much. Their employers collapsed. I laud Commissioner Sisolak for attempting to put some reasonableness into compensation
bobSep 17, 2010 20:33:41 PM

Ask Sisolak how much money the county would have saved if they had followed the agreements that they made in the contract. They have violated the contract numerous times, have gone through arbitration for doing so, and have lost. The county and the fire department management are not powerless to stop abuses that occur within the department. They are too lazy. Easier to blame than to simply roll up their sleeves and do their job. If they were backed into a corner and powerless, as you suggest, why are tax payers paying department management 6 figure salaries?

joeSep 18, 2010 22:37:20 PM
Bludgeoned, Bob? The contract was negotiated between the county and the union--give/take, pull/push from both sides. Both sides had to AGREE. Would you agree to be bludgeoned, Bob?
joeSep 18, 2010 22:46:57 PM
Firefighters, as a group, have learned how to work the system. They've been considered heroes so you couldn't say anything bad about them and they used that advantage to get incredible contract deals.

Kudos to Sisolak and others who have finally begun to question the outrageous pay and benefits.

skepticSep 17, 2010 10:10:11 AM
Why hasn't Mr. Sisolak demanded that Metro release their pay/benefit/compensation package information to the Transparent Nevada website? He sits on the Fiscal Affairs Committee for Metro, and has pretended to be the poster boy for transparency for other public employees....What about METRO?????
joeSep 17, 2010 10:07:42 AM
Steve Sisolak is a LIAR. You cannot go to the Transparent Nevada website and find the names of Metro employees attached to their pay/benefits/compensations (as is the case with other public employees). According to the folks at Transparent Nevada, they have not received this info from Metro, but in their own words will continue to "hound" them. Additionally, they stated that a likely reason for Metro (or any other organization) not providing such info is that they don't want people to know "what's really going on in there." Sisolak's huffs and puffs about the wrongs of the fire department and need for transparency yet his contrasting views regarding Metro render his expressed desires for "fairness" and moral, ethical obligations completely phony and contrived.
joeSep 17, 2010 14:13:09 PM
I was wondering what concessions Mr. Sisolak has made himself as far as benefits and Pay?
SeanSep 17, 2010 09:28:45 AM
What about the 16 million Mr. Sisolak received from the county for his property that is close to the airport. Too close to build a high rise so he sued the county for lost revenue... AND the county paid him? HMMM
JohnSep 19, 2010 21:03:00 PM
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