LAS VEGAS -- Thomas Nicholson, a clinical laboratory assistant, has worked at University Medical Center for 12 years. He depends on his paycheck to support his family, but the income is getting smaller now that he'll take a 2% pay cut.
The cut in pay stems from an agreement reached Tuesday between the hospital and the Service Employees International Union Local 1107 to avoid layoffs. The pay cut is retroactive for positions ranging from janitors to nurses.
"We do understand that the hospital is in dire need of funds, so the two percent, most people, including myself, would say is something we have to live with. But, to come back and say that we are going to make it retroactive, which means that we would have to pay them, I don't feel is fair," Nicholson said. "Basically I think it's going to hurt a lot of families."
Clark County expects the concessions will save more than $4.6 million.
"We stated it's kind of a punch in the stomach," said SEIU Local 1107 President Al Martinez. "The timing is not good timing. As you well know, people are getting ready to have their children go back to school, getting school supplies, getting clothing."
Clark County Commissioners Lawrence Weekly and Tom Collins were the two board members who voted against approving the pay cut.
"Our employees are our biggest expense to the hospital," Commissioner Weekly said. "One of the things that should be recognized is the fact that we also have the most underpaid nurses here in Southern Nevada. To go back and take away something they've already earned is something I could not support."
As for Nicholson, he's still dedicated to his job.
"In the end, we are here for the patients," he said. "Some of us may go through financial difficulties, but we will still remain - coming here and serving the community through the patients."
The pay cut is for hospital employees going back to May 3. UMC and SEIU, meanwhile, are still going to the bargaining table to work out a new contract. They are scheduled to hold a third bargaining session this week.
University Medical Center officials were not available for comment.
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