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Clark County has 1,000 job vacancies. Its workers are protesting

SEIU Nevada

Right now, there are about 1,000 job vacancies within Clark County’s government. That’s nearly 20 percent of all county jobs, meaning current workers are having to pick up the slack.

As it stands, after decades of understaffing, many are growing increasingly frustrated with what they see as intransigent county leadership.

In the past several weeks, Clark County employees with SEIU Local 1107 — which represents 10,000 county workers — have made headlines by protesting in front of county buildings. Before last week, Southern Nevada Health District workers protested in front of the SNHD headquarters. On Wednesday, union workers held a rally in Terminal 1 of Harry Reid International Airport.

Predating these protests, county employees presented the Clark County Commission with more than 1,100 signatures demanding action on staffing levels in May.

County workers keep Southern Nevada’s government, administrative sectors, child protective services, courts, parks, cooling centers and travel industry running.

So, when they protest — or when staffing shortages are allowed to become chronic — a lot of public services are at risk of grinding to a halt.

But on the workers’ side, staffing shortages also pose quality of life issues.

Marla McPherson, an ATS superintendent at Harry Reid International Airport, attended Wednesday’s rally. She said that morale is flagging among her county coworkers.

“What happens is that the culture itself here at the airport tends to kind of erode, because now people are doing even more,” she said. “Some folks are having to work two jobs or work overtime, be away from their families. And so, it’s not helping anybody in that regard. The County used to be a really great place to work, everybody wanted to work for the County, but because of some of these issues I think that that’s kind of not that way anymore. A lot of the other entities in the valley have really stepped up their game and Clark County needs to do the same – we need to be back to where we were.”

Low morale is made worse by what SEIU Local 1107 president Michelle Maese says are racial inequities in hiring and disciplinary actions within some departments.

“Black workers make up 26 percent of the workforce at the Department of Aviation. Yet, they’re disciplined at (rates) 36 percent higher than anyone else. And brown workers make up 17 percent of DOA workers, and they’re disciplined at (rates) 26 percent higher than anyone else. It’s really hard to recruit from Black and brown communities when they have a reputation for not treating people fairly at the DOA.”

To cope with fewer staff, the union alleges that the county has relied on expensive subcontractors to an excessive degree.

In the ongoing negotiations, Maese said that Clark County leadership has shown a reluctance to improve things.

“To us, it seems like (the county) wants to keep us below the norm,” said Maese. “They will say they want to do what’s right, they’ll say they want to invest in public services, they’ll say they want to invest in the workers, they will say how much they appreciate us, but they don’t show it. And when the time comes for them to make a public comment, or for them to really step up and lead … they don’t do it. It’s unfortunate.”

But, she also emphasized that it’s not too late for local government to prove they can do and be better for workers. 

“I say to (the county): This is your opportunity, and what a wonderful opportunity it is for you to make things right.”

Clark County declined to comment on the pending negotiations.

Guest: Michelle Maese, president , SEIU Local 1107

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