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County reaches labor agreement with largest employee bargaining unit



The Board of Washoe County Commissioners and its largest employee bargaining unit, the Washoe County Employees Association, approved a formal labor agreement Tuesday covering the current and previous fiscal years, providing more than $2.5 million in wage and benefit savings to taxpayers between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013.

The agreement comes after extended and difficult negotiations following five years of an economic recession and almost $7.2 million in voluntary wage and benefit reductions from this employee group alone since 2009. The prior year concessions, combined with $155 million in budget reductions over the past five years, have enabled the county to balance the 2012-13 budget with no employee layoffs.

“We are just pleased that the local economy is improving and hope the stabilization leads to further growth,” said Penny Rasmussen, president of WCEA. The WCEA represents approximately 65 percent of all Washoe County employees.

WCEA members have taken voluntary wage cuts for the past four years to help with the revenue shortfalls caused by the economic downturn. During contract negotiations, the WCEA voluntarily offered to continue the concessions from the year prior pending the completion of negotiations. Those concessions helped the county close its budget gap over the fiscal year 2011-2012. Ms. Rasmussen stated, “The WCEA has always been and remains committed to working with the county in challenging economic times.”

Washoe County Manager Katy Simon says, “We are grateful and proud of our partnership with our WCEA members and the service they have provided to the people of Washoe County. These employees provide key services: the clerical workers, the technicians, the road maintenance and snow removal teams, the planners and the social workers that keep Washoe County going. As a result of the years of hard work and sacrifice by these and other employees, we were able to balance the budget for fiscal year 2012-13 without additional concessions.” Simon continued, “In a fifth year of declining revenues, we were able to close the budget gap by eliminating an additional 51 vacant positions, on top of the 700 already eliminated, which still creates a burden and a service level challenge for the employees that remain. We thank them for their hard work and their willingness to give back to the taxpayers.”

In addition to providing vital and essential public services, WCEA members are important to the local economy. WCEA members are also focused on working to improve economic conditions for the local community and have recently launched a “Buy Local” campaign. The campaign provides free advertising for local businesses and encourages its members to support companies that participate.

Any further questions about the new agreement or the “Buy Local” campaign may be directed to the WCEA main office at (775) 329-9750.

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