State employees plead for relief from pay, benefit cuts | NevadaAppeal.com
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State employees plead for relief from pay, benefit cuts

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

State workers pleaded for relief outside the Legislature on Wednesday, saying they’re enduring unfair and excessive cuts to their pay and benefits.

Those cuts include furlough days, elimination of merit and longevity pay, multiple reductions in health benefits and the 2.5 percent pay reduction.

“The cuts have been excruciating to my family,” said Jennifer Cooper, a 20-year veteran of NDOT. “We’ve lost our home; we can no longer afford preventative medical care.” She said her 19-year-old daughter had to visit the emergency room, leaving her thousands of dollars in debt.

“We have state employees who live in their cars, are on public assistance,” said Shara Lynn Kern, a DMV worker for 13 years.

Vicky McVeigh, a welfare employee for 22 years, said the cuts have been so severe that “we will never regain the things we had prior to the decline.”

Janet Brooks, a 13-year state worker, echoed that theme.

“We have lost buying power,” she said. “We’ve lost our house, our security, our dignity.”

All pleaded with Gov. Brian Sandoval to restore the things that have been cut from their pay and benefits, urging him to join Democratic lawmakers in making that happen.

Kern said lawmakers are considering numerous bills giving a break to companies pushing economic development and other business interests — including the Hollywood film industry. State workers are a better investment, she said.

“When you invest in your employees, you invest in your economy,” Kern said.

Keith Uriarte, chief of staff for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said in total, the cuts to some state workers exceed 20 percent. He called on lawmakers and the governor to “make state employees and their families whole.”

About 50 people were at the rally, not counting more than 20 lawmakers of both parties.