Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Cites Impasse with Police Union; Jacksonville Considers Other Options to Help with Budget Shortfall

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Cites Impasse with Police Union; Jacksonville Considers Other Options to Help with Budget Shortfall

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR

Mayor John Peyton's plan to shore up Jacksonville city finances is based heavily on getting some help from the unions.

But if he doesn't get the help, he has other options - as he showed Thursday with the city's largest union.

The chances of reaching agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police dimmed significantly when the city declared an impasse with the 2,400-member union of police and corrections officers.

"We came to the conclusion we were not moving forward," Peyton said.

The mayor wants salary cuts, employees to pick up more of their health insurance costs and a less attractive overtime policy to address a "structural problem" of rising employee costs.

Talks with the FOP are now a step closer to being resolved by the City Council - whose members were beating the drum for pay cuts a year ago when Peyton instead proposed furloughs.

By declaring impasse, the city is requesting a special magistrate hear the differences between the two sides and make recommendations to move the talks forward.

If the city and police don't agree on the recommendations, the matter will go to the City Council. That isn't expected for at least three months, said city negotiator Leonard Carson, a Tallahassee-based attorney hired to handle the city's police and fire union talks.

The city's veteran labor negotiators said a city union contract hasn't been decided by the council since at least the early 1990s.

Peyton said the impasse with the FOP is not meant to send a message to other unions and the timing is connected to last week's announcement of a potential budget shortfall of $58 million, tied to rising employees costs.

But the city's move does give the other unions something to think about, fire union President Randy Wyse said.

"It makes me wonder if they're going to do it to us," he said.

Asking unions to take these types of cuts isn't going to make for a quick negotiation, FOP president Nelson Cuba said. …

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