‘Labor’ articles

Metro wants lawmakers to
believe in ‘magical number’

Staffing claims by LVMPD sheriff contradict 15 years of Metro’s own violent-crime data

Arguing for yet another Clark County sales-tax increase ostensibly dedicated to hiring more police officers, Las Vegas Metro Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told state lawmakers Monday that two officers per 1,000 residents is a “magical number” for police staffing.

While national authorities on appropriate police staffing levels almost universally criticize use of such ratios, Lombardo never acknowledged that consensus.

Instead, he pointed to the years immediately after the enactment of the “More Cops” Sales Tax Initiative and argued that the increased hires it permitted had forced crime downward.

Said Lombardo:

“Specifically, the years 2007 through 2011, that’s where we crested that two officers per thousand, and if you look at the crime numbers in Clark County, directly associated to that crest of two officers per thousand, you can see that [crime] is decreasing.

“And then after 2011, with the population increase and the downfall of the economy, and the inability to hire folks, [crime] started to increase. So I’m a firm believer that cops make a difference.”

Shortly thereafter, Bill McBeath — Cosmopolitan CEO and Chairman of Metro’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs —testified remotely from Las Vegas, echoing Lombardo:

“When you see the delta between when we did hit the two per thousand and the reduction in crime rates, and you see the increase in crime rates as we went away from it, there’s a linear relationship. This is not subjective.”

However, actual violent crime numbers reported by Metro do not support what Lombardo and McBeath told lawmakers.

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What happened to Metro's
‘More Cops’ promises?

Extra tax revenues channeled into bank, record-level pensions

In 2004, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department commenced an aggressive campaign to promote what was called the “More Cops” Sales Tax Initiative.

Citing standard law enforcement metrics as evidence the agency was understaffed, Metro P.D. marketed the initiative as the most effective way to secure the hiring of more uniformed police officers to serve the Las Vegas basin.

Specifically, Metro noted that its officer-to-population ratio — measured by officers per 1,000 people served — was lagging relative to the national average.

Metro’s arguments throughout 2004 convinced Clark County to vote “yes,” by a narrow margin, on an advisory ballot question, which asked the following:

Do you support an increase in the sales and use tax in Clark County of up to 1/2 of 1% for the purpose of hiring and equipping more police officers to protect the citizens of Clark County?

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Nevada’s shrinking labor force —
the view from inside small business

Labor force participation rate among Silver State youth lagging

In the aftermath of the 2008 subprime meltdown, Nevada’s unemployment rate skyrocketed.

By 2011, statewide unemployment had grown beyond 13 percent. Prior to that, the state’s unemployment rate had never exceeded 10.9 percent, a high reached 30 years before, during President Reagan’s first term in office.

As of July 2016, Nevada unemployment was down to 6.5 percent, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At face value, that suggests the economy has improved markedly from the recent historical lows.

However, a new analysis by the Nevada Policy Research Institute questions the extent to which the drop in nominal unemployment truly signals an economic recovery.

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Are you one of the millions of employees
who Obama wants punching time-clocks?

Flexible job-scheduling now at risk for many salaried Nevada workers

Are you fortunate enough to have a flexible job schedule?

Does your employer allow you to work remotely some days? To telecommute from home?

Or perhaps you’ve permission to work at odd hours, or on weekends — just so long as the job gets done.

For millions of Americans, flexible job schedules make juggling work and family-life obligations much easier. Salaried workers may, on occasion, leave work earlier than normal quitting time, when personal errands require, then make up the work later.

Employers allow this because they know that happy employees are more productive. When the latter know their employers not only value their work, but trust them, it’s a win-win for everybody.

Until now.

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The work-comp logjam is leaking

Support grows for voluntary alternative to work comp, said better for everyone

It’s common knowledge that, for over a century, state-mandated workers’ comp systems have held sway as the “exclusive legal remedy” available to victims of workplace accidents.

Frequently overlooked, however, is the extent to which the work-comp regime has also, by its compulsory nature, excluded alternative and innovative solutions to that very same problem: finding the best solution to the chronic problem of workplace injuries.

Workers’ comp thus operates as a particular case of the general rule that government, by making a particular solution mandatory, tends to freeze innovation in the area of that mandate.

Nevertheless, there is one state in the United States that never entirely abandoned the constitutional principles that prevailed before the wide embrace of Otto von Bismarck’s compulsory industrial-insurance model.

Notably, the state of Texas still proclaims its adherance “to the principle that employers should be allowed to choose whether to offer workers' compensation benefits to their employees.”

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State regulation of work comp
proceeded on tilted playing field

Bad-actor ‘anecdotes’ finally, after decades, granted new credibility

When Nevada legislators outlawed lawsuits by injured workers against work-comp insurers and administrators in 1995, the lawmakers essentially made a promise.

In the absence of such lawsuits, they pledged, vigorous and vigilant state regulation would protect injured workers from bad actors who broke faith and violated work-comp rules.

Fines would suffice, the lawmakers told each other — fines levied by the state’s Division of Industrial Relations (DIR).

“[T]he substantial fine should prevent ‘bad faith’ from happening,” argued then-senator Randolph J. Townsend, according to legislative minutes.

So how “substantial” were the fines written into law to keep bad actors from misbehaving?

Under Assembly Bill 61, the penalties measure passed that same session, the fines were limited to “not more than $250 for each initial violation which was not intentional, or a fine of not more than $1,000 for each intentional or repeated violation.”

Of course, medical bills and wage-indemnity costs for injured workers quite frequently far exceed a mere thousand dollars. Thus, the 1995 legislation arguably incentivized bad behavior by insurers and claims administrators: Even if caught, they were far ahead, financially, just paying the fine.

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How state lawmakers
broke the ‘Grand Bargain’

Supreme Court: Injured Nevada workers get
merely ‘a hollow and illusory form of relief’

If you and I make a deal and, step by step, I abandon what I committed to do, are you still obligated to keep fulfilling your end of the pact?

Common sense — and basic contract law — would say no.

However, when we’re talking workers’ compensation law, in Nevada and most American states, such common sense doesn’t apply.

Legally, all across the country, the presumed basis of industrial insurance rests upon state-imposed “grand bargains” that state politicians hypothesized as having been made between employers, as a class, and representatives of employees, as a class.

Under these hypothetical “deals”,

1) Employees are deprived, by statute, of their common-law right to sue negligent employers for damages in case of injury.
2) In exchange, employees are ostensibly guaranteed prompt, decent medical care in case of injury, even when they are the negligent parties. Also, they and their families are — in theory — guaranteed a modest proportion of the worker’s normal wage to live upon until he or she can again work.

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Former NSEA staffer accuses
union of racial discrimination

Plaintiff calls the case “textbook” racism, union won’t return requests for comment

LAS VEGAS — The Nevada State Education Association may be in hot water over what one former employee is calling racial discrimination and a breach of contract.

Jaime Reborn, a six-year employee of the association, has taken his firing to court. It was because of the color of his skin, he says, that he was passed up for a promotion and subsequently fired.

Reborn, who is African-American, says that when the position for director of communications opened up in 2012, he was clearly the member of the NSEA staff most qualified for the post, holding seven college degrees, including one doctorate.

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Once a prominent union member,
now he's a union target

Local sues former department PIO over health-benefit payments

For 30 years he represented the Clark County Fire Department as its public information officer.

Now Robert Leinbach is being sued in federal court by the department’s union. The complaint — by firefighter Local 1908 — accuses him of “breach of trust, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unjust enrichment.”

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Nevada teacher union eyes
new priority for ‘organizing’

Approach downplays services for members, aims at advocacy, ultimate militancy

LAS VEGAS — Following years of dwindling membership in the Nevada teacher union, its officials are pushing to shift resources away from member representation and toward new recruiting campaigns instead.

The result is that teachers who see themselves as educational professionals, rather than rank-and-file laborers in a government-school industry, are finding themselves increasingly sidelined by the union, the Nevada State Education Association.

It’s a pattern emerging not only in the Silver State but all over the U.S.: Teacher-union brass, confronted with declining membership, are seeking to transform the nature of their unions, despite resistance from existing members.

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