Government employee unions are attempting highway robbery |

Government employee unions are attempting highway robbery

Chuck Muth

In a city with over 14 percent of its citizens unemployed, only a government employee union would have the stones to demand a raise!

In a precursor of the kind of financial crisis that could easily spread to other Nevada cities if it’s not careful, North Las Vegas is scrambling to fill a $33.3 million budget hole … no small chunk of change. And unlike how they do it in Washington, this problem can’t be kicked down the road. The state of Nevada requires all of its municipalities to balance their budgets.


Balanced budgets are good. Fiscal responsibility is good. Ensuring tax dollars are spent responsibly is good. So what’s happening in North Las Vegas is a taxpayer’s worst nightmare.

A decade ago, North Las Vegas was booming. Mother Hubbard’s Tax Cupboard was flush with dough from new construction, new homes, new businesses, new people moving in and plenty of new revenue from all manner of taxes and fees.

As such, starting around 2007, deals were cut with government employee unions that guaranteed annual raises and very generous benefits packages. Health insurance and retirement accounts were all covered; an employee would not have to spend a penny.

A program was even created for union members to trade in unused holidays or days off for cash!

Today, it is a starkly different story. The Nevada economy has tanked. Housing prices are in the toilet. New jobs are as rare as a Rembrandt. And people are scared.

The city has already made some very tough budget-cutting decisions and implemented some very significant changes in how the job of providing government services gets done. But it’s not enough.

Over eight out of 10 dollars spent by the city goes to salaries and benefits for government employees, which makes it virtually impossible to balance the budget when shrinking tax revenues have to go to mandatory, automatic pay raises – something few private sector employees could ever even dream of.

The city of North Las Vegas has been working for months to strike a deal with the city’s intransigent government employee unions. Unbelievably, in the face of this fiscal emergency, the police, fire and Teamsters unions are demanding that the citizens of North Las Vegas thicken the lining of their already sweet-as-candy salary and benefits packages.

This madness has to stop.

North Las Vegas is a perfect example of what happens when Big Labor bullies municipalities into big promises they can’t keep. There needs to be comparative fairness between private and public sector wages, meaning it’s time for public employee pay and benefit cuts, not just a pay freeze.

And if these pampered princes of public service perks and pay don’t like it, they’re welcome to try their luck in the private sector.

• Chuck Muth is president of He blogs at