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- 2012 - September - 28th -

Council OKs 3 labor deals

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

City Council approved three agreements Thursday between the City and two bargaining units of firefighters and supervisors, deals that will keep previously agreed upon 2 percent pay cuts in effect for the next three years.

In return, the agreement with Local 122 of the International Association of Firefighters, which consists of firefighters, engineers, lieutenants and captains, along with district chiefs, guarantees no layoffs with the exception for disciplinary cause and attrition.

The deal with the Jacksonville Supervisors Association, which represents supervisory personnel, also keeps a 2 percent pay cut and 5 percent health care contribution by employees intact.

The 2 percent pay reduction the firefighters union agreed to Wednesday — also already in a current three-year agreement set to expire over the weekend — will save the City approximately $7.5 million over the next three years, according to the City. The similar 2 percent reduction for the supervisors will save approximately $1 million over that same period.

During the Council Finance Committee meetings in August, negotiators said they were optimistic the deal with the firefighters’ union would be done before the start of the new fiscal year Monday.

The new deals will expire Sept. 30, 2015.

Council members inquired whether the firefighters’ contract affected the recent heart and hypertension health care claims issue that arose during the budget hearings, but they do not — and it could be the next contract in three years until it’s addressed.

“That seems like an awful long time for us to wait to deal with an issue,” said Council member Matt Schellenberg.

Derrel Chatmon, assistant general counsel for the City, said negotiations on the firefighters’ contracts began in February and that the heart and hypertension claims issue was broached too late to include in the contract.

The City and union could come to a mutual agreement to amend the contract, he said.

A “reopener” clause is also included in the contract for the City to negotiate retirement benefits with the collective bargaining unit, Chatmon said.

Randy Wyse, Jacksonville Association of Firefighters Local 122 president, said that while the union is in support of the contract “100 percent,” it will maintain the same position regarding pension discussions it has had the past three years.

That is, union officials will come to the bargaining table but will not discuss any issue that is included in the 30-year settlement that includes language for not reducing benefits. It expires Sept. 30, 2030.

The Police and Fire Pension Fund, not the unions, negotiate pension issues with the City.

Mayor Alvin Brown has said he will address the pension issue by the end of the year.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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