LVCVA committee recommends against contract with union

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's five-member compensation committee today voted against recommending a five-year contract with the Service Employees International Union.

In a 3-2 vote, the committee opposed the proposed contract, primarily because of the level of pay increases — 3 percent for the first two years, 2.5 percent for the third and fourth years, and 2 percent for the fifth year.

The full LVCVA board will consider the recommendation July 9.

The three private-sector members of the committee — Kristen McMillan, Charles Bowling and Scott Nielson — opposed the contract, saying that while the city's economy has improved, it still hasn't fully recovered.

Most of the LVCVA’s revenue is generated by room taxes. The average daily room rate at Southern Nevada hotels has been steadily climbing, but it is nowhere close to record levels, and the visitation rate has been flat for the first four months of 2013.

The same committee last month recommended an 8 percent pay increase and a 40 percent bonus to LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and a 6 percent pay increase and 25 percent bonus to legal counsel Luke Puschnig. The full board approved both raises earlier this month.

Michael Coogan, who was the lead negotiator for the SEIU, told committee members he was disappointed to hear them say they had confidence in the efforts of him and Mark Olson, the LVCVA’s vice president of human resources, to reach an agreement in negotiations, yet still recommend against the deal.

The union, which has 316 LVCVA employee members, ratified the agreement June 11 with a 95 percent vote.

The raises as proposed in the contract would increase the LVCVA’s payroll by an average of about $500,000 a year.

The percentage increases were cited as the main reason for recommending against the contract, but McMillan also was concerned about the five-year term of the contract. She said the current trend is for shorter terms because of the unsteady economy.

Committee members also were disappointed that an article in the agreement includes a longevity bonus program for employees who stay with the LVCVA for more than eight years. Olson said it’s been the LVCVA’s policy to work to eliminate longevity bonuses, but including it in the contract was one of the concessions management made to win agreement.

The two public-sector representatives on the compensation committee — Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins and Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen — supported endorsing the contract, which has been under study since February.

When it was clear the private-sector members weren’t going to endorse the contract, Collins recommended forwarding the contract with no recommendation and allowing the 14-member board of directors sort it out.

The LVCVA board is composed of eight public-sector members and six from the private sector.