Fire Union May Cancel Contract Vote; but Peyton Says If There's No Vote, Look for Layoffs and Demotions

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR

Jacksonville firefighters may not vote next week on a proposed deal with a temporary 2 percent pay cut, the union president said Wednesday.

Without a vote, Mayor John Peyton's office said there would be layoffs and demotions.

That comes the same day Peyton's staff thought the path for a vote was cleared when the Police and Fire Pension Fund board agreed to examine the plan and accepting that "meaningful modifications" are coming.

Not so fast, according to Fire Union President Randy Wyse. None of the numbers in Peyton's plan - including raising the minimum service to retire from 20 to 25 years - has been approved by the pension board.

And the union was still getting revised pieces of the contract from the city Wednesday afternoon, including at least one piece that Wyse said he hadn't seen before.

Wyse's 1,200 members are scheduled to vote on it next week.

The union has had the full contract since Aug. 10 and only one section has had any changes, Peyton spokeswoman Misty Skipper said. If the union doesn't vote next week, the deal's off, she said.

And the layoffs of 26 recent fire recruits and demotions of dozens of mid-level managers - spared when the fire union tentatively agreed to a deal in July - would become a reality.

The fire union was the first of the city's six unions to reach a tentative deal, and the three others that agreed have gotten the same as the firefighters - a 2 percent pay cut that's restored in 2012 and employees picking up 5 percent of their personal health insurance costs.

The fire union has yet to vote on the contract because Peyton insisted it was contingent on pension reform.

The pension board said Wednesday it will hold a series of meetings on the proposal Peyton issued last month, but it agreed that adjustments to the plan for new workers are forthcoming. …