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The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority provides or maintains almost 4,000 public housing units in the Las Vegas Valley where more than 7,600 Las Vegans reside, and administers another 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) that allow families to rent in the private market and receive a subsidy toward their rent.
SEIU Nevada Representation: 209 (as of May 2, 2014)
Please scroll down to see the latest news about our SNRHA Chapter.
With roughly 50 SEIU Nevada members and staff in the audience filling their near-capacity chambers, Commissioners of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority Thursday
approved allowing outside law firm Parker, Nelson & Associates run up another $329,205 in legal fees, bringing the firm’s fiscal year 2014 take to $907,000.
With Commissioners Sanje Sedera and Debbie Patton abstaining, the remaining 10 commissioners approved the additional expenditure unanimously. Only Sedera publicly questioned the wisdom of approving the additional expenditure amid the authority’s lean operations elsewhere. “I don’t know if it’s the best model for our agency going forward,” he said. “I think we really ought to look at our budget. These things could be handled internally and save us some money,” he said after ticking off several tasks Parker Nelson’s has undertaken, and listed as justification for the firm to be paid more.
The Commission’s vote came after a half-dozen speakers – almost all affiliated with SEIU Nevada – implored the commission to reject the expenditure in light of stagnant contract negotiations with the union and a two-day-a-month furlough imposed against its 212 employees since Dec. 6, 2013. This furlough already has resulted in 1,908 lost work days, or 15,264 lost hours employees would have been serving Housing Authority clients. If the furlough is allowed to continue to its currently planned end date of Sept. 26, those numbers will grow to 4,240 days, or 33,920 hours. Consequently, the furloughs have translated into a more than 8% pay cut for Housing Authority employees.
“No one likes to take a pay cut, but we were willing to do it, especially because we thought it was going to be a temporary thing,” SNHRA SEIU 1107 Steward James Jackson told the commission. “We’re worried that if the end of the fiscal year rolls around [on Sept. 30], is there going to be a move to extend it?”
Almost all of the speakers labeled approval of the legal fees – Parker, Nelson’s second such approved increase in the past several months, representing a near tripling of the budgeted amount the Housing Authority projected paying the firm in its annual budget – as inappropriate. “If the Housing Authority can pay outside attorneys nearly $1 million, it should be able to take into account the services not being provided to the community because of the furloughs and end them now!” SEIU 1107 Steward Courtney Errington told the commission.
SEIU 1107 members employed by the Housing Authority were joined by members from other chapters, including Cherie Mancini, Executive Vice President of the local, who is an employee of the St. Rose Dominican Hospital – Siena Campus; and Cara Evangelista, Chief Steward – Non-Supervisory employees, Southern Nevada Health District
Parker, Nelson partner Teddy Parker joined the meeting by conference call and spent more than an hour painstakingly addressing many of the issues raised by the speakers objecting to the increase. He touted work the firm had done for the Housing Authority that he said ultimately had saved the organization far more than the legal services had cost. He also blamed the union for generating extra business for his firm through grievances.
Noting that Housing Authority’s employees have worked without a contract since January 2013, Errington said dormant negotiations naturally increase tensions in the workplace, where conflicts and grievances can occur more easily. “SEIU 1107 and its bargaining team want to return to the table with management,” she added. “Let’s all support a productive and positive work environment by getting back to the table and ratifying a fair contract.”
Although SEIU 1107’s action did not stop the Commission from approving Parker, Nelson’s contract or prompt them to end the furloughs, it was clear that neither Parker nor Chairperson Father Dave Casaleggio appreciated the scrutiny.
“It’s stuff like this that not negotiating, but playing games,” Casaleggio said, holding up a flier the union had distributed about Parker Nelson’s sweetheart deal amid the employee furloughs. (To view the flier, please click here.) To be clear: SEIU 1107 was NOT playing games, but was drawing attention to a contradiction in the Housing Authority’s operations: the organizations has the money to pay out nearly $1 million to an outside law firm, but not enough to end unpaid furloughs against its 212 employees.
Errington and Chief Steward Martha Floyd want Thursday’s action to be the first of many to ensure that union members’ voices are heard and prompt the Housing Authority to end the furloughs and negotiate for a fair contract. “Actions like this send a message to Commissioners that we’re watching,” Errington said. “Members don’t always realize how much power we have, but we really are stronger together.”
Commissioners Thursday will consider hiking the law firm’s contract to more than $907,000 — almost 3x more than the Housing Authority budgeted to pay the firm for the entire year—while still furloughing their hard-working employees!
Questions? Contact SEIU Nevada’s SNRHA Rep Javier Cabrera at 702-210-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEIU Housing Authority Members have overwhelmingly approved the agreement between SEIU and SNRHA Management. The official results are posted below.
Voided Ballots 0%